How to put a bottle of summer on your table

Keywords: Agriculture, Food,
The produce stand has a variety of fruits that will bottle for use in the winter. Enlargephoto

DAVID BERGELAND/Durango Herald

The produce stand has a variety of fruits that will bottle for use in the winter.

Yesterday was the last day of summer. River rats and Parrothead wannabes, time to turn in your Tevas for a pair of hiking boots. Mountain people, better zip in that liner to your Columbia jacket, double check the rainfly on your tent and upgrade to a loftier sleeping bag. Backyard barflies, swap the margarita or mojito for darker spirits.

Pale ales yield to chocolate stouts and rich porters; summer salads move from the main stage out to the wings as accompaniment to autumn soups Now that the sun is slip-sliding from view, it’s time to preserve some remnants of summer. You can stock up on next summer now with a few simple preparations that alchemize with time into potent concoctions that will keep things sunny all winter long.

It’s been a banner year for fruit across Montezuma County and most of us have been gorging ourselves on peaches, apples, apricots, pears and plums. The peaches have never been better or more prolific. They are so juicy and sweet that I eat mine directly over the sink like a kid who couldn’t care less how much of the juice sticks to her face and fingers. I can easily polish off 3 or 4 in one standing.

There is, however, a downside to this lavish abundance. Fruit has the maddening habit of coming ripe all at once. Suddenly you can go from buying a few rock-hard supermarket peaches – because they look so inviting – to having access to bushels and bushels of dead-ripe fruit strewn across counters, windowsills, tabletops and any other available flat surface. And since it’s only the cold-hearted cook who can ignore ripening fruit to the point where it has to be thrown out, something must be done with the excess. So when you can’t face another peach pie – if that’s possible – or don’t want to spend the next 12 hours canning peaches, or have had your fill of sink fruit, there is help.

Keep reading for some no-cook recipes that will preserve summer sunshine through the dark of winter.

Artisan vinegars are a hot item at farmers markets, in stores, and in tasting rooms everywhere. They’re also one of the easiest and most inexpensive condiments to make and a great way to use up fruit while preserving your aromatic herbs like basil, marjoram, tarragon, cilantro, oregano, parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.

Fruit from the waning days of summer farmers markets can be transformed into vinegars and liqueurs for enjoyment in the winter. Enlargephoto

Sam Green/The Journal

Fruit from the waning days of summer farmers markets can be transformed into vinegars and liqueurs for enjoyment in the winter.