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The 2014 Farmers Almanac
Farmers' Almanac

The Art of Spring Purée

The Art of Spring Purée

If the thought of purée conjures up images of pasty peas, mushy mushrooms, or squished sweet potatoes splattered on a highchair, epicureans take heart! Purée isn’t just for babies anymore, nor is it strictly the bailiwick of celebrity chefs who whip up award-winning coulis concoctions (puréed and strained vegetables or fruits) out of yesterday’s peas and plums.

With spring and summer gardens and farmers’ markets providing a bounty of colorful, fresh, flavorful, and fragrant fruits and vegetables for the table, an afternoon of creative puréeing can yield results limited only by one’s imagination.

Used alone as side dishes, as a base for soups, in desserts and snacks, or even as components of main dishes, puréed vegetables and fruit can take a mundane Monday meal to the next level, make traditional pancakes pop (try puréeing raspberries and peaches together for a tangy, sweet and sunny sauce in place of heavier maple syrup), or provide the basis of a festive feast guaranteed to pique even the pickiest of palates. Mixing different kinds of vegetables like asparagus, summer squash, and carrots, or fruits such as strawberries, bananas, and pineapple, can produce creative combinations that complement meat, fish and chicken, top ice cream or pound cake, mix well with plain yogurt (especially when trying to eliminate the added sugar in store-bought fruit-flavored kinds), and make plain oatmeal almost dessert-like. Try a purée made with steamed apples, natural peanut butter and (uncooked) bananas on your boring bowl of oatmeal, and add a little cinnamon, nutmeg, and honey on top.

While techniques for puréeing may vary to accommodate food and machine – such as a blender, food processor, or immersion blender – it’s best to start by chopping most fruits (unless very, very ripe and soft) and vegetables into small pieces and steaming until soft. Those in the know say that, while al dente works for pasta, crunchy fruit and vegetables will make the blades of your blender or food processor work harder, and may not produce desired results.

Seeds and pits should be removed, and some purée proponents also recommend removing skins from items like summer squash, zucchini, apples, and peaches, but this depends on personal taste. Though the purée may not be quite as smooth, retaining the skin equals more fiber, which is heart healthy. Additionally, adding liquid such as vegetable or chicken stock to vegetables in the blender or food processor, or a little water to fruit, will facilitate pureeing if food accumulates around the blades. In the case of stock, it will add flavor as well.

Try these purée perfection recipes for a fragrant and flavorful spring:

Cauliflower Purée
Ingredients:
1 medium cauliflower
1/8 stick of butter (more to taste)
1 Tbsp. heavy cream (more to taste)
Vegetable or chicken stock (if necessary)
Sea salt to taste

Directions:
Chop cauliflower into medium-sized pieces and steam. Place cauliflower, butter and heavy cream in food processor and process. Add a few tablespoons of chicken or vegetable stock or water if mixture appears too thick and process again. Add salt.

Cherry Blueberry Peach Purée
Ingredients:
1/2 lb. cherries
1/2 lb. blueberries
1/2 lb. peaches
Sugar or honey to taste

Directions:
Cut into small pieces, remove peach and cherry pits, and steam or cover half way with water and cook until soft. Drain water. Puree in blender or food processor, adding a little water if necessary. Add sugar or honey if desired. Top waffles or pancakes while still warm, or refrigerate and serve over ice cream or pound cake, or mix into plain yogurt.

4 comments

1 Teresa { 04.26.12 at 7:39 pm }

Thanks for the ideas. My dad could only eat liquids (20 yr throat cancer survivor) and my mom blends everything for him. Will pass these ideas along to her :)

2 Donna { 04.25.12 at 10:06 am }

I have blended and frozen my fruit in the past for use in smoothies. Spray a little cooking oil in an ice tray, freeze and store till you need them. Dropping a couple cubes in your smoothie takes the place of ice and tastes SO much better:)

3 Robyn { 05.25.11 at 10:52 am }

This sounds like a great idea. Can they be frozen?

4 Becoming healthy { 05.08.11 at 9:01 pm }

Greetings I am constantly on the look out for ways to stay healthier, I like your article, sounds tasty! This is actually really good info!

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