Originally posted in ecookingblog, dedicated to grain, dairy and sugar free cooking.
I have been developing recipes with a wide use of homemade fresh fruit purees in baking, with different dietary restrictions in mind. Abundance of seasonal fruits in summer gives an opportunity to make purees from plums, apricots, pears and peaches and use them in baking and to create dessert recipes. Main advantage of fruit purees, is that they contain pure concentrated fruit with everything in it. Fruit purees can be easily frozen in required portion size and used in the depth of winter.
With so many of my recipes including fruit puree in the list of ingredients, and with only brief description in general terms how to prepare puree in every post, I thought the time have come to write a simple technical post, with step by step photos of the process. I make thick puree from apples, plums, pears, quinces, persimmons, peaches and apricots. Preparation of orange and lemon purees from cooked fruits is quite different process and is not discussed here. In this post I will describe the process of making peach puree as an example. Please, do not pay much attention to peach puree colour, it might look as an ugly duckling, but it tastes divine.
What you need to make thick fruit puree
- fruit of your choice, washed, pitted and sliced
- preferably Pyrex glass bowl
- microwave oven
- kitchen scales
Making peach puree
- register the weight of the glass bowl, it will make calculations easier to know when fruit puree reached its desirable thickness
- cover peaches with boiling water and allow them to stand for 15-20min (you will be able to take the skin off from some types of peaches, but not others. I had a mix of different peaches and was not able to do that for all of them, I used some peaches with skin on)
- if using peaches with skin, dry their surface with paper towel
- cut peaches in half, take the stone out, slice
- cook peaches in microwave on high for 12min, they will produce a lot of liquid
- stir to move peach slices around the bowl to achieve even cooking
- cook peaches for another 12 min on high, liquid level will be reduced
- weigh the bowl with peaches and make calculations to know how close you are to desirable fruit weight
There are 2 options from here:
the first option
- to cook fruits again for 7-10min on high to reduce moisture content even more, until practically no liquid is left
- register the weight and proceed with making puree using stick blender
After achieving the desired puree thickness, use puree for baking or making deserts and make portion size packages to freeze the rest.
or the second option, which I use to make thick plum puree
- make puree after second cooking
- register puree weight
- cook already blended puree for the third time in microwave, to achieve the desired thickness for a particular bake
- or using puree to make confections
The golden rule is to reduce the weight of the fruit in half. For the initial fruit portion of 500g it usually takes 22-25 min of total cooking time, but it will depend on the type of microwave, type of fruits used, and water content in fruits. For initial weight of 1000g, total cooking time, in my experience, varied from 30min to 38min. Apricots and peaches might need to be condensed less, if they are not so juicy. You have to start making purees and will be able to adjust the process to your needs.
Purees from different fruits vary in their acidity, which determines their different applications.
Apple puree is not too acidic, and can be used even as fruit spread on toast. I mainly use thick apple puree in baking and making apple pastila, similar to plum pastila, with exactly same recipe, replacing plum puree with apple puree.
Plum puree is more acidic, compared to apple, and to have it as a spread, you need to add honey or other sweetener of your choice. I started to use plum puree in baking and managed to develop reliable plum frangipane tart recipe for both gluten free
and grain and sugar free versions.
Peach puree surprised me with its sweetness and intense flavour. It is excellent as a fruit spread, and keeps well refrigerated without any preservatives for at least 2-3 weeks. To avoid my usual troubles with cake burning, when making them with honey, or with dates, which give a specific flavour, that can overwhelm the taste for delicate cakes, I took a risk and developed a recipe for a cake, based on peach puree as a sweetener. Here is my latest baby – grain and dairy free apple, peach, walnuts, cinnamon and raisin cake, with pumpkin seeds and almonds, as dry ingredients. No sweeteners of any kind, no extra fats of any kind, only those from wholesome ingredients.
Puree from apricots has a vibrant colour and an intense flavour. I haven’t used it in baking yet. I tried the process, the result was silky and most homogenous puree, that tasted so nice, that we simply had it as a spread.
There are different, more healthy options to concentrate fruits. With very popular dehydration techniques, and reliable equipment for that, it is possible to dry out fruits to a certain degree and process them later to make puree. This process will leave more water-soluble vitamins intact, and as a technique treats fruits in more gentle way. I do not have dehydrator, and I like to expose fruits to high temperatures if I plan to store them for a while. This process also kills bacteria and fungi, which survive dehydration process, especially in fruits are used with skin. Skin is a good source of fibre which is very beneficial in gluten free and grain free baking.
All fruit purees can be portioned for any baking purposed and frozen until needed. There was no difference in using either freshly prepared, or frozen puree in my baking experience.