Robin Anish: The answer to your winter woes? Canned fruit

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I have to start out by saying: I am so cold — brrrrrrr! It's January and freezing outside.

And with that having been said, so much for local produce. Although the trend continues toward eating locally, it is difficult to be a year-round locavore in New England when it comes to fresh produce. Fortunately, we can buy outsourced fruits and vegetables, even organic, year round at our local markets.

Yes, we love fresh fruits and vegetables, but there is a price to be paid for pleasing our palates in the off season, that being the higher cost of fresh produce during the winter months.

This is when to consider what some would find unappetizing — resorting to less costly canned fruits and vegetables. The grocery stores know this to be true given that supermarket flyers are always full of stock-up sales for canned goods in January.

Truth be told, the only canned vegetable I will eat is corn — anything else, not so much, actually, not at all. However, canned fruit is a different story. The fruits are generally processed at their freshest and, when juice-packed, the nutritional value of canned fruits is not too far behind that of fresh. At this time of year, canned fruits are available, affordable and with some culinary creativity, a satisfying alternative to fresh.

Let your taste buds lead the way and jazz up the classic, now considered retro, cottage cheese and fruit plate. How about peaches, pears, pineapple on a bed of mesclun greens with a scoop of cottage cheese or Greek yogurt garnished with a sprinkling of crushed pistachios, cilantro, a squeeze of lime, maybe a shot of sriracha or salsa verde and a crown of toasted coconut? Not so retro anymore!

Canned fruit sorbet? Yes! Just freeze a can of any type of fruit until solid. Open both ends of the can and push the contents out, cut into manageable chunks and use a food processor to whirl the fruit into a smooth sorbet. Try apricots, berries or cherries flavored with one or two tablespoons of a favorite liquor. That's it — ready to eat or freeze for later. Syrup-packed fruit will result in a softer, easier to scoop sorbet once frozen while juice packed will be icier like a shaved ice.

But on a cold winter's day, a warm roasted fruit compote should hit the spot.

Roasted fruit compote

Ingredients:

1 large can each of juice-packed peach slices and pineapple chunks, drained

3 or 4 bananas sliced into 1-inch pieces

6 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons butter

optional: cinnamon, nutmeg, favorite liquor or rum

Directions:

Combine fruits in buttered shallow baking dish. Sprinkle with brown sugar. If desired, lightly dust with cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg or drizzle on a little liqueur or rum. Dot with butter. Bake in a preheated 450 degree oven for 10 minutes. Perfect unadorned, but topped with whipped cream or ice cream nestled on a slice of pound cake, it is outstanding!

Robin Anish is a former caterer who lives in Lenox, where she continues to cater to her enthusiasm for cooking. She can be contacted via The Berkshire Eagle at 75 South Church St., Pittsfield MA 01201.


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