Crumbly crumbles

Ever since we started getting our weekly groceries delivered from Spud.ca back when our CSA finished for the year, I’ve been making sure to include whatever fruit that’s in season — something we don’t get much of with our CSA.

It’s interesting, I have never been a huge fruit fan, I much prefer veggies, but this year I’ve probably consumed more fruit in the last three months than I have… Well… To be honest: Ever.

Until now, I hadn’t actually taken stock of the quantities I order with our weekly delivery and it’s actually a fair amount to consume before the next week’s order arrives. Since we’re currently in winter mode, this is what we’ve been getting: 3lb box of mandarin oranges, 2lb bag of mixed pears, 3 kiwis (this is what usually constitutes a single “count” when ordering small fruit), and sometimes 3 apples (unless I’m ordering apples for baking, the I’ll order a 3lb bag).

With the exception of the apples, I have discovered that all the fruit has to be consumed within the week or they’ll be lost. The surprisingly great thing about our Spud deliveries is that our fruit’s been arriving at the perfect ripeness for eating but of course doesn’t have a very long window for enjoyment so I’ve had to come up with a reliable recipe I can use across the board for all my fruit just to extend their “eatability” and not throw them into the garbage bin.

Enter fruit crumbles, stage left!

It turns out that I don’t like fruit crisps, but I really, really, like fruit crumbles and with that thought in mind, I wanted to find a recipe that could be easily be customized or doctored up to my heart’s content. This recipe, I discovered, is supremely easy to wing using whatever fruit you happen to have onhand. I really like that this recipe, even though it has measurements, doesn’t actually require anything resembling proper measuring accuracy. At least, I certainly don’t much bother when I make it — I’ve been tossing in a little handful of this, a few heaped spoonfuls of that, as well as a little bit of that over there and whatever else happens to pique my interest of the moment.

My current flight of fancy happens to include all the pears we keep getting, along with a bit of candied crystalized ginger chips, plus some raisins for The Hubbs, and the usual spice suspects. But like I said, whatever you’re keen on works perfectly fine, so have at it!

The recipe that I’m going to include below is going to be really messy to read as I will be giving the basic, loose “template” based on my current use of pears, so if you’re not keen on, let’s say, the ginger chips, just substitute with something you prefer or else ignore the ingredient(s) entirely. As for the topping, the ingredients are easily scaled up or down as needed depending on the amount of fruit, or size of baking pan, you’re using.

As a loose guideline for determining how much sugar, lemon juice and cornstarch to use in your recipe:
* Use more sugar and less lemon juice when cooking with tart fruits
* Use less sugar but more lemon juice for sweet fruits — taste a piece of fruit to adjust everything to taste.
* Use more cornstarch with very juicy fruits and less with firm fruits.

Pear Crumble (aka Your Favourite Fruit Crumble)

Pears (or chopped fruit of choice), enough to fill pan about two-thirds full
1/2 cup sugar, to taste
lemon juice, to taste
1-3 Tbsp cornstarch, depending on juiciness of fruit
cinnamon, nutmeg, other fave spices, to taste
couple handfuls, each: crystalized ginger chips, raisins, walnuts, etc…

Crumble Topping:
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 generous tsp baking powder (if using whole wheat, otherwise use level teaspoon)
cinnamon & nutmeg, to taste (optional)
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened

Preheat oven to 375°F.

In a bowl, add your fruit with the sugar, lemon juice, cornstarch, spices and ginger chips, raisins & nuts, if using, stirring well to combine.
Pour filling into your baking dish of choice.
In a smaller bowl, combine all the dry topping ingredients together and mix well. Add the butter and use your fingers to squish it in with the flour, just until you have assorted sized butter chunks.
Pour the crumble topping evenly over the fruit and bake for 30-35 mins until the fruit bubbles around edges of the pan and the topping is nicely browned and firm to the touch.
Let crumble cool to room temperature before serving so the fruit has time to set up.
Enjoy with vanilla ice cream!

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