The big spring fruit crunch
Surviving those premium fresh prices

by Cheryl Leschasin
Northern News Services

NNSL (Apr 04/97) - It's no big secret that inexpensive fruit is hard to come by this time of year.

"The Chilean fruit season is pretty much over, but California crops won't be ready for another month or so", said Pietro Berotolini, produce manager at Edgsons.

Tom Mah, Co-op produce manager said "you can still get soft fruit but it's pretty expensive."

Well, instead of being left in a fruitless lurch, you might want to consider alternative fruit options.

Yes, it's time to hit that often neglected aisle in the grocery store -- the canned fruit section.

With the new, healthy "fresh is best" society we live in, canned fruit has taken a big blow. But stop a minute, think of all the yummy stuff you can whip up with a can of nice, syrupy fruit.

If you don't like the sweeter-than-sweet taste of syrup, health-conscious canned fruit companies are packaging their goods in "natural juices".

Need some dessert, and quick? Whip out a can of peaches, throw some ice cream (or frozen yogurt for health conscious folks) in a bowl, and voila, instant dessert!

And who can forget tasty pistachio salad, made with a can of crushed pineapple?

Speaking of pineapple, it's time to pay respect to the king of canned fruit. You can buy pineapple crushed, sliced, cubed or in "tidbits." The world as we know it wouldn't be the same without it.

Eating a nice large hawaiian pizza without canned pineapple on it would be like spaghetti and meatballs without the spaghetti, bagels and cream cheese without the bagel ... you get the picture.

Canned fruit companies are even capitalizing on those with more exotic tastes. Although canned mango, papaya or starfruit aren't easy to find, local grocery stores stock a tasty mix of exotic fruit "chunks," packed in their own juice.

And for those with plenty of ambition, a good way to get through the late-winter fruit crunch is to can your own. Not only can you control the amount of sugar used, you might save a bundle on your grocery bill.

It's really not that hard if you buy cases of fruit late in summer. It just takes some jars, a good recipe and plenty of patience.

So you see, there is an alternative to forking over five bucks for a couple of granny smiths. When prices get high, remember -- there's always the canned fruit aisle.