How to Incorporate Local Produce on Your Menu Year-Round

Key trends right now in the industry are using local, fresh ingredients and making dishes from scratch. House-made syrups, sauces and compotes are a way to incorporate local produce onto your menu year round, not just while they are in season. They can be used in a variety of places on a menu, from sauces and dessert toppings to specialty drinks. Cooking with local produce isn’t just for summer menus either. Fresh, local berries can be frozen on a sheet tray and stored in the freezer, allowing you to make different house-made sauces and syrups with local produce all year long.

Maines Corporate Executive Chef, Eamon Lee, shares how to make your own sauces, syrups, and compotes using Maines Pride of New York fruits:

It all begins by making simple syrup;

Heavy Simple Syrup Recipe:
Yield 1 ½ cups

  • 1 cup Water
  • 2 cups Sugar
  • 1 tsp. Lemon Juice

Bring water, sugar and lemon juice to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Boil for 2-3 minutes, remove from heat and store in refrigerator until ready to use.

For the Syrups, Sauces and Compotes

Once you have simple syrup prepared, it’s just a matter of adding fresh Maines Pride of New York fruits and berries to make an array of fresh and seasonal recipes. In addition, the method described below allows the flexibility of adding spices, herbs, citrus zests, etc. to infuse and enhance the flavor of your syrups, sauces and compotes.

 

Here’s how it works; if making a 2:1 fruit to syrup ratio, in a non-reactive sauce pan combine 2 cups fresh fruit and 1 cup heavy simple syrup and bring to a boil. Simmer for 1-2 minutes and remove from heat and cool at least 4 hours. That’s it! It’s now ready to use as is, strain, puree, whatever you wish.

 

Note that this method works well with berries like blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, cranberries, seeded and diced stone fruits like plums, peaches, nectarines and apricots. When using higher moisture fruits like strawberries and grapes, the ratio of fruit may need to be adjusted higher to achieve a desired texture. You can also mix and match fruits to create your own blended recipe. The key is to experiment and have fun!

 

You can scale up directly when making large batches without any changes to the ratio, but it is recommended that large batches over a gallon be cooled in hotel pans uncovered in the cooler so that the freshness of the fruit is protected from carry-over cooking.

New York State Blueberry Lime Spritzer

New York State Blueberry Lime Spritzer

1:1 Fruit to Syrup Ratio (Light)
1 Part Fresh Fruit
1 Part Heavy Simple Syrup

This ratio is good for making fruit syrups and thin sauces. Try with cocktails and seasonal culinary based non-alcoholic beverages. It also goes well with breakfast food like pancakes and French toast.

 

Mason Jar Cheesecake topped with NYS Blueberries

Mason Jar Cheesecake Topped with New York State Blueberries

2:1 Fruit to Syrup Ratio (Medium)
1 Part Fresh Fruit
2 Part Heavy Simple Syrup
This ratio is also good for beverage syrups and sauces, but it can also be pureed and strained to make coulis and smooth puree type sauces with a little more body. This ratio is also good to put on ice creams and heavy desserts.

 

4:1 Fruit to Syrup Ratio (Full Bodied)
1 Part Fresh Fruit
2 Part Heavy Simple Syrup

This ratio is perfect for heavier purees and dessert sauces for tarts and cheesecakes. For Chef Eamon’s Greek Yogurt Cheesecake Recipe pictured below, click here.

IMG_4452

Greek Yogurt Cheesecake Topped with House-Made New York State Blueberry Compote

 

8:1 Fruit to Syrup Ratio (Heavy)
1 Part Fresh Fruit
2 Part Heavy Simple Syrup

This ratio is more fruit than syrup and is great for heavier fruit compotes. It can be cooled and then strained, the fruit used as a compote and syrup used as a sauce or flavoring in beverages or other sauces.

 

Fruit and syrup recipes can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks and frozen for up to three months. When not in season, Bountiful Harvest IQF fruits can be used with fantastic results!