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Make your dishes that much more perfect, with The Perfect Purée.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

KAREN HOCHMAN is the Editorial Director of THE NIBBLE.

 

 

November 2006
Updated September 2009

Product Reviews / Main Nibbles / Fruits

The Perfect Purée Of Napa Valley

Puréed Fruit For Professionals & People Who Want
To Cook Like Them



CAPSULE REPORT: We searched for years for great fruit purées. What little we found was artificial and not worth writing about. When we discovered The Perfect Purée of Napa Valley, we hit the mother lode. Every type of fruit—mango, peach, white peach, raspberry, strawberry, passion fruit, banana, pear and many more—picked at ripe perfection, puréed and ready to use. The one catch: They’re made for professional chefs, so there’s a minimum order of 3 jars. Available in 30- or 15-ounce sizes, it can be kept frozen or shared with friends. And, you get to use the top ingredients that chefs use, hitherto unavailable to the equally-worthy “public.”


Overview

If you’ve ever struggled to remove the pulp of fresh mangos, you can imagine what a delight it would be to open a jar of purée of perfectly ripe fruit to make ice cream, sorbet, sauce or cocktails. When we first began looking for purées for an article on using purées to make easy desserts and cocktails, we were stumped. What we found tasted unreal, over-sugared or otherwise laden with additives. We wouldn’t use it to garnish a plate.

Then we came across The Perfect Purée of Napa Valley. Since it began in 1989, the dream of entrepreneur Tracy Hayward, the company has grown from offering eight purées to nearly thirty flavors. Previously available only to professional chefs and bartenders, they are now sold to consumers, at a 3-jar minimum, in 30- or 15-ounce size jars.

The purées capture the fresh flavor of real fruit because they’re made of real fruit with nothing artificial. High quality and consistency based on strict quality standards and processing methods make it the choice of thousands of chefs and kitchen professionals across the U.S.

Great Idea #1

The next time you or a friend is scheduled for some dental surgery, order a selection from The Perfect Purée. That diet of liquid foods will be delicious!


Yes, that’s right. Many fine restaurants don’t have time to make all that raspberry purée to garnish all those desserts, or find white peaches and make purée for Bellinis. They buy their purée and you’d never know the difference.

Some products are purées and some are concentrates. The products arrive frozen and are good for 7 to 10 days after they are thawed, if kept refrigerated at 40°F.

The Flavors

Great Idea #2

Bring a jar of The Perfect Purée to a dinner party as a host or hostess gift. A bottle of wine or some flowers are nice, but other guests will bring them. Anyone who loves to cook and entertain will be thrilled to be introduced to The Perfect Purée.

Four of the original The Perfect Purée flavors remain in the line today, and are among the most popular: Apricot, Mango, Red Raspberry and Roasted Sweet Red Pepper. But there’s an embarrassment of riches among the other 24 varieties. We’ve tasted them all, and offer our own impressions. Except for kiwi, the purées are seedless.

Berries, Cherries & Currants

  • Strawberry. Luscious and sweet, we ate it like candy. A good dessert sauce, but don’t overlook stunners like the Milanese Strawberry Champagne Risotto recipe on the website.
  • Classic Cassis. Thick, rich and serious, this tart and elegant cassis purée can be used straight from the jar with savory preparations like duck, turkey, ham and pork. Sweeten it up a bit for a dessert sauce.
  • Blackberry.  We like this purée with its rich blackberry flavor. We’re not a fan of blackberry seeds so we don’t enjoy the fruit as often as we’d like.  The flavor works with savory as well as sweet.
Blackberry Perfect Puree
A cross between the Chehalem and Olallieberry Blackberry, this variety makes the traditional blackberry stand up and take notice. With its dark purple-red color and deep, rich dusky flavor, this berry is considered the “Cabernet” of blackberries.
  • Cherry. This nice, dark cherry is thinner and less sweet than the more ubiquitous strawberry and raspberry purées, but it is a pleasant change of pace as a sophisticated dessert sauce. It also works in savory sauces, too, for poultry and pork. We created a sauce for grilled tuna that we rubbed with a Moroccan spice blend—different but tasty.
  • Blueberry. We ate this in the middle of fresh blueberry season, when we were eating a pint of fabulous fresh blueberries daily. It didn’t compare favorably, and that’s our only complaint out of 28.
  • Red Raspberry. Tasty and a beautiful red color, but we make raspberry purée all the time, and after trying all of the more unusual flavors, it seemed like just another day in our kitchen.

Domestic Fruits

Whie Peach Perfect PureeOne jar of White Peach purée makes 12 Bellinis, Peacharitas or deluxe smoothies.

  • Kiwi. Nicely tart and a bit citrusy, possibly from the ascorbic acid used in many of the flavors as a color preservative. This is the one purée where the seeds have been retained, presumably for aesthetics. Try it in a Frozen Kiwi Mousse.
  • Key Lime Concentrate. A concentrate of exquisite flavor, as if just-squeezed from the limes. Like nothing available in a bottle on a shelf, try this in your Key Lime Pie and see what you think (in fact, we think we have unlocked the secret to a prominent chef’s key lime pie recipe).
  • Meyer Lemon Concentrate. Ditto, from Meyer lemons. Fabulous to cook with, it makes everything taste better.
  • Pomegranate Concentrate.  As the name says, this is concentrated for cooking. Much more intense than pomegranate juices. Try the Turkish Lamb Kabobs With Pomegranate Salad recipe.
  • Prickly Pear. Most people haven’t had prickly pear. It’s a thin purée with a beautiful fuchsia color, brighter than pomegranate. The taste is interesting, comparable to nothing else, not at all strong but with a hint of the exotic. Try it in cocktails, Prickly Pear Demi-Glace or Prickly Pear Sorbet.
  • Blood Orange Concentrate. A blood orange concentrate, this makes heavenly sorbets, beverages and sauces. A treasure to have in the freezer.
  • Pear. A delicate pear-flavored purée. We love Pear Sorbet, we just don’t like the prep work. This makes it so very easy.
  • White Peach. The purée is actually pinkish, like applesauce puréed with the skins. Sweet and subtly peachy, it can be used in a number of dishes, like the dressing for a Thai White Peach Prawn Salad.

Exotic Fruits


You can let your cooking fantasies go wild with this group:

  • Coconut. A calming “comfort food”: A thin purée, snow white and smooth as silk, with no pulp.  Try it in Coconut Creme Brulée, Coconut Ice Cream, cocktails and Thai cooking. Coconut Jasmine Rice, which cooks four cups of rice in the entire 30-ounce jar of coconut purée, is divine. To leave your guests truly speechless, add some fresh curls of coconut on top.
Mango Perfect Puree
Mango purée.
  • Papaya. It’s unusual to find papaya in this form, and a real treat. The Papaya-Honey Creme Fraîche Dressing is a killer over fresh fruit salad, chilled steamed asparagus or with cold turkey or chicken.
  • Lychee. This “purée” is actually the consistency of juice. The lychee flavor is delicious—we could have drunk a quart. We poached scallops, made a sorbet and served the rest as a dessert drink with the sorbet. We can’t wait to try the Tea Smoked Duck with Lychee Glaze recipe on the website.
  • Mango. A terrific purée. It’s easy to see why this is one of the most popular in the line. It could be a dessert in and of itself, though there are plenty of recipes on the company website for fancier desserts (Mango Panna Cotta and Mango Mousse, for starters). It also makes a super Mango Margarita.
  • Passion Fruit. A wonderful concentrate—tart but not overly so given the nature of the fruit. We enjoyed drinking it; it made an exceptional sauce, perked up a fruit soup. Just give us gallons of it. We’ll make more Passion Fruit Vinaigrette for an endive and bleu cheese salad, serve with a fruit salad (add chicken or duck) or baste grilled chicken or fish for a truly different flavor accent. Similarly, you can make a great Passion Fruit Marinade.
  • Pink Guava. This thick purée with its beautiful pink color can be eaten from the jar like a dessert‚ although of course, that is not its intent. It is simply wonderful used straight as a dessert sauce and topping. Instead of white peach Bellinis, we made Champagne cocktails that had more personality, although we’re not sure that they have a name (Nibbelinis?). Pink Guava Daiquiris and Margaritas will also be the hit of any party, and Guava Sorbet is the bomb. Did we say that we really liked this one?
  • Banana. One of our favorites, this thick purée, the consistency of vanilla pudding, is such a comfort food we could have eaten the whole jar with a spoon. Use it to top anything from pancakes to ice cream to pound cake. Or make Banana Daiquiris and Banana Sorbet, a very deserving member of the sorbet family that is too seldom encountered.
Ginger Perfect PureeGinger Perfect Purée.

Specialties

If you love to make inventive dishes, you will flip for this group. Each is spectacular.

  • Roasted Red Pepper. Another of our favorites, we couldn’t resist the pure flavor of roasted red pepper purée with olive oil. With a bit of fresh herb, it could be served in a shot glass as an amuse bouche. We loved it as a sauce under scallops (or any white fish); and we made a heavenly red pepper sorbet. Serve this savory Roasted Red Pepper & Blood Orange Cheesecake Recipe as a first course, and be sure to make the Roasted Red Pepper Soufflé.
  • Ginger. Minced, sweetened young ginger root, tasting like heavenly ginger candy, had us entranced. Anyone who likes ginger must try this purée. There is no end of uses for it, even spreading it on toast. Or in ice creams and sorbets, on pound cakes and pancakes, as a garnish with poultry, meats and ethnic foods, in sauces and drinks...we sang its praises when we weren’t eating it straight from the jar. If you make gingerbread cookies, this renders the powdered spice irrelevant.
  • Lemon Zest. We’d say almost the same thing about the lemon zest, chopped and blended with a bit of sugar.  Who knew zest could be a condiment? Now we’re hooked. Don’t question it, just buy it—along with the Ginger.
  • Orange Zest. Ditto. Both zests and the Tamarind purée below are used in a wicked Tamarind Barbeque Sauce recipe on the company’s website.
  • Tamarind. It’s not easy to find fresh tamarind, let alone a purée. Consider this a real find. Tamarind works with both sweet and savory dishes. It’s a dominant ingredient in Worcestershire sauce, pad thai, chutneys and Latin American sweets. Try the Tamarind, Blood Orange & Chipotle Glaze on a rack of lamb. And follow it with some Tamarind Sorbet.

Serving Suggestions

One thing you’ll note from our notes above is that the purées have a lot of flexibility. Many can be parts of savory preparations as well as sweet. Most have uses in common:

  • In cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks
  • In ice creams and sorbets
  • As dessert sauces
  • As dessert “beverages”: we served flights of three different purées in shot glasses, either as a light dessert after the cheese course and before coffee, or as one of a series of dessert courses.

Depending on the flavor, one 30-ounce jar makes a gallon of ice cream or 12 cocktails. The website has many recipes to help you decide.

The purées are pricey, but that’s what top ingredients cost—and they cost less than if you purchased the blackberries, lychees, raspberries or white peaches to make 30 ounces of purée yourself. If you have a passion for cooking and love great ingredients, ask for them for a birthday or holiday gift. They will give you much more pleasure than another bottle of wine or a few CDs. And they will lead you through the looking glass into a whole new world of wonderful foods crafted in your own kitchen. If you need any recipes, there are quite a few on The Perfect Purée website.

FORWARD THIS NIBBLE to anyone who loves to cook and/or entertain. Use the link on the right side of the navigation bar at the top of the page.

THE PERFECT PURÉE OF NAPA VALLEY

Certified kosher by Orthodox Union

Prices and flavor availability are
verified at publication but are
subject to change.

PerfectPuree.com

Perfect Puree
The Perfect Purée purées come in wide-mouth jars that fit standard bartender pour spouts.

 

 

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