Fresh apple cider adds much to a variety of dishes, from main meal-type, to desserts. I sometimes us cider in stews to give a sweetness to balance the other flavors.
Living in New England, one reveres apples. They have a season that seems to last all year long. During the spring we enjoy the beauty of the trees. During the summer, we note the progress of the fruit. Perhaps best of all, in very late summer and early fall, we enjoy the fresh fruit. And, through the fall and winter we find endless ways to use these gems, in all their diversity and scrumptiousness!
I've learned that even though avocados are most often used as vegetables, they are actually classified as a fruit. I use avocado almost exclusively to make Guacamole, a great favorite with all our Southwestern dishes. On choosing an avocado, most important the skin should give a little when pressed lightly with a finger. It's a little hard to describe, but remember that the flesh has to be mashed and therefore should be soft enough for that.
I can understand why bananas are the most popular fruit, world-wide. They're delicious, just as is; they're also wonderful in combination, in a variety of ways. Whenever we buy a bunch of bananas, it's pretty sure that at least one of those bananas will serve as lunch for me, sliced and with a large dollop of crunchy peanut butter on the side.
These berries may be used in such a variety of ways. They're available fresh most of the year, and at all times frozen. These berries are wonderful for breakfast in pancakes or muffins, or as part of a fresh fruit salad. Blueberry pie ... hard to beat.
Cherry pie is a Thanksgiving favorite of two family members, and only tart cherries will do. We most often find these in 14 oz. cans. Last year we had quite a time finding them, and finally found glass jars of cherries imported from Bulgaria, perhaps the best we've ever had.
An ingredient for Cherry Pie, almost exclusively.
Cranberries are one of the few berries native to America. I learned this on a recent trip to Carver Massachusetts. I went with a friend just as the cranberry gathering season was ending. The bogs are like nothing I had ever seen before. The cranberry bushes grow on perhaps acre areas which are recessed with a mote all around them so that the area can be filled with fresh water. Then some kind of machine loosens the ripened berries from the bushes; the berries then float to the surface of the water and are gathered. We saw one big dump truck just brimming with the beautiful berries. Looking at the berry laden bushes just before the berries are harvested is quite a sight: soft greenish- yellow foiliage with a reddish tint from the beautiful berries. Cranberry relish will never seem quite the same.
Once in a while, these little jewels are the quintessential addition to a dish.
What a wonderful ingredient. We use them very infrequently, since they're not available for very long during the summer season. Growing up, we had a tart cherry tree which produced just enough for one wonderful pie each summer. What a gift, and treat that was!
These work excellently for cooked raspberry sauces or other such cooked preparations.
Sometimes a recipe needs a little fruit juice. It can be almost any kind, cranberry, apple, even pear or pineapple. I'll suggest the preferred variety, if important.
Lemons are a staple item in my kitchen. I try never to be without them because they sometimes turn up as a surprise ingredient. Just a squeeze of lemon can make the difference between "so-so," and, "just right." I really like things to be just right!
Lemon zest is a necessity if you're looking for an intense lemon flavor. It is the grated or finely peeled and julienned outer layer of the lemon, including just the yellow and avoiding the white which adds an undesirable bitterness.
Fresh lime juice contributes unique flavor and for us, is a must in Guacamole. Lime juice is also a wonderful addition to most, if not all, fruit juice drinks. Particularly, try it with Pineapple Juice, and just a touch of seltzer.
Most of the time, orange juice is a beverege in our home. But there's no substitute for orange juice in a pie crust.
There are very few recipes in which concentrated orange juice is specified, but, when it is, no substitute will do.
This adds a little zing whenever called for.
A fresh just-ripe pear and a bit of extra-sharp cheddar, make a wonderful mid-day meal!
I use pineapple juice, as some other fruit juices, as a baking ingredient. Mostly, it contributes a wonderful texture to the final product, along with a subtle, yet piquant, flavor.
I have come to buy pineapple almost exclusively, shorn of its tough outer layer. I guess one could accuse me of getting "soft." So far, though, I've found the taste quality is dependably very good (sometimes really excellent), and I'm far less reticent to partake of this delicious fruit.
I mostly use plums for eating as fresh fruit. However every summer plum season, I try to make sure and bake a plum tart: quite simple and so delicious.
These are a staple item in our home, used in many different ways. I like them moist. Dole raisins are very reliable in that category.
Raspberries are wonderful as an ingredient in a variety of baked goods, and also in a sauce as an side dish. Just a few go a long way.
I've learned that stewed tomatoes have a taste all their own. I used to disdain them, but have learned that they're just perfect for some uses. I have at least one recipe that I once substituted plain canned tomatoes for the stewed, and felt the results were inferior. As I've said, taste is my measure.
While I don't use these often, they're very useful for sauces and purees.
Tomato paste helps give intensity to certain dishes. Sometimes we use it sparingly (as in a mushroom sauce for pasta) or more generously (as in black bean chili). When called for, it is not to be overlooked. Its omission would be greatly missed.
There are so many different kinds of tomatoes which are used for so many different reasons. I'll try and refer to the particular kind in the recipes. Regular tomatoes are wonderful for burgers. Plum tomatoes are very good for sauces. Grape tomatoes have been a wonderful discovery. They invariably taste just next to home grown and are our choice for most salads.I'm not a gardener so I don't use as a rule all the different heirloom varieties, for example. I would suggest using the ones you like in whatever recipe.