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 gave me an opportunity to try homemade purees from plums, apricots, pears and peaches. Main advantage of fruit purees, is that the product contains pure concentrated fruit with everything in it. With so many of my recipes including fruit puree in the list of ingredients, and with only brief description in general terms, of my way of puree preparation in every post, I thought the time have come to write a simple technical post, with step by step photos of the process. I will do that using the process of making peach puree as an example. 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 easier to make calculations 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 peaches, I was not able to do that for all of them, and some peaches with skin)
- 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
- stir to move peach slices around the bowl to achieve even cooking
- cook peaches for another 12 min on high
- weigh the bowl with peaches and make calculations to know how close you are to desirable fruit weight
There are 2 options from here:
- to cook fruits again for 7-10min on high to reduce moisture content even more
- register the weight and proceed with making puree using stick blender
or the second, 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 a 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 it’s 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 a sneak peek on 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 have it as is. Please note, that the bread in the photo is only gluten free, and is not suitable for the readers of this blog.
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 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.