Pureeing fruit makes it instantly more versatile. Throw it in a smoothie for breakfast on the go, or combine it with mustard for a quick glaze for meat. Start with high-quality fruit, avoiding any foods that show signs of mold or decay. Minor bruises and blemishes are okay; spoilage is not.
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Fruit Pureeing 101
The general method for pureeing fruit is simple. To puree almost any fruit, including berries, orchard fruits and tropical fruits, peel the fruit, cut out any blemishes and chop the fruit into 1-inch pieces. Place the fruit in a blender or food processor and blend until the texture is smooth. Add water or juice if the puree seems dry or too thick. Some fruits, such as grapes, are impractical to peel. You can still puree these fruits, although you might notice tiny bits of peel in the puree. Pour the puree through a sieve to remove bits of peel, as well as any seeds.
Soft, juicy fruits -- such as watermelon, strawberries, or peaches -- puree with just a few whirls of the blender. Hard fruits, such as apples or pumpkin, must be cooked first to soften them. Peel, seed and slice these fruits and place them in a large saucepan with enough water or juice to cover the bottom of the pan. Simmer until the fruit is very soft, then puree them. If you're pureeing large quantities of peaches and tomatoes, drop them in a pot of boiling water for a minute to soften the skins and simplify the peeling process.
Jazz Up the Flavor
Fruit purees on their own have a pleasant taste, but a few simple additions can up the "wow" factor. Combine apple, pumpkin or pear puree with brown sugar, cinnamon and orange or lemon zest for a delicious sauce. Stir a little honey and ginger into pureed mango or peach, or splash almond extract over a berry puree. Some fruits, such as peaches and apples, brown quickly once they're exposed to air. Combat this problem by adding a squeeze of lemon juice, which also brightens the flavor.
The most common purpose for a plain puree is perhaps baby food. Process fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables to give your baby simple, wholesome foods. Fruit purees also form the basis for many sauces and dishes. Pureed apples or pears become applesauce or pear sauce. Cook down the sauce to thicken it and you have apple or pear butter. Turn pureed tomatoes into homemade chili sauce, ketchup, marinara sauce or salsa, or incorporate pureed pumpkin into baked goods, soups and pasta sauce. Add sweet and spicy ingredients and you have a zesty chutney. Cook the puree with sugar and pectin and you have jam.