What are the best recipes? use canned fruit?
Canned fruit is more than a good dose of nostalgia: it’s cheap, available all year round, no matter the season, and a friend to many bakes. Example: Pears work a treat nestled in chocolate batter, as do apricots baked tatin-style on or under puff pastry. Or follow Jack Monroe’s lead in Can of cooking and embrace the good old fruit cocktail by popping a can into a classic cake batter.
Guardian baker Ravneet Gill is especially fond of canned pineapple: “I love it, and you can use it in so many things.” It’s just as at home in an upside-down cake as it is in a granita (made from the canned juice, sugar, and lime juice), adds Gill. “Canned pineapple also withstands baking well, so put it in a crumble or cobbler.” Or go for a cross between the two with a dump cake: Gill’s pineapple and peach version appeared here a few weeks ago, but essentially combine the two fruits in a baking dish, top with a dry cake mix (flour, baking soda, caster sugar, cornstarch , salt) and bread slices, place in the oven and bake until golden brown. Job done.
Canned fruit isn’t just for candy, though. Gill turns pineapple into a quick pickle: “Tap out the juice and drink it, add sugar and lime juice” [or white-wine vinegar] to the fruit, toss, stir in some chopped chilli and set aside.” Gill uses it to fill curries, but of course you can also put canned fruit in it in a curry – eggplant and pineapple, for example, or Monroe’s peach and chickpea number. For the latter, Monroe cooks chopped onion, garlic and curry powder in oil, then adds chopped canned peaches and their juice, chickpeas, chopped tomatoes and a crumbled stock cube. Let it simmer for half an hour and add a little water if it becomes a bit thick.
Canned cherries, meanwhile, are ripe for pickling. In Can of Magic, Jessica Elliott Dennison drains the fruit (she saves the juice for soda), then mixes it with red wine vinegar and a pinch of salt. Eat in salads, such as beetroot and walnut (“the sour sweetness contrasts so beautifully with the beetroot’s earthiness”), or use to top off chocolate mousse.
In the meantime, Princess cherry pie filling is something of a staple in Gill’s house: “It’s so good, so reliable and I use it all the time.” That could be in a black forest pie, adding a dollop to puff pastry before frying, or swirling through cake batter. Fresh cherries are expensive, so Gill suggests filling them up with canned for, say, a cherry pie. Bonus: Less pitting is less mess.
Canned mango pulp, be it kesar or alphonso, is also worth mentioning. “It’s a really good ingredient and costs about £1 a can,” says Gill, who adds it to cheesecakes, soufflés and ice creams. Or prepare a mango lassi for breakfast: in the dishoom cookbookMango is mixed with a banana, coconut milk, thick Greek yogurt, oats, honey, cumin seeds, sea salt and ice cubes, until smooth. Drink through a straw to start your day sunny.