Fruit


When I saw that this month’s Can Jam ingredient was stone-fruit, I was very happy. Some of my favourite canned treats have been made from stone fruits – plum jam, peach bbq sauce, plum sauce, nectarine jelly… I was looking forward to repeating one of my favourites to share with the can jammers. And then I saw the Tigress’ Nectarine Preserves with Summer Savoury and White Pepper and decided to ditch my previous plans and follow her lead, but play with the spices to come up with my own creation. This slightly spicy gem is what I came up with:

Note: As-written, this is a 2-day affair, but the cardamom overwhelms the savoury to the point that you can’t really taste it anymore, so if you’re feeling impatient, you can skip the step of letting the nectarines and savoury sit overnight. Or you could try reducing the cardamom so the savoury isn’t overwhelmed!

A big thanks to Nick for his help taste-testing along the way!

Spicy Cardamom Nectarine Preserves
Inspired by: Tigress In A Jam
Yield: 5 cups (1.25L)
Level: Beginner

3 3/4 pounds nectarines
4 3/4 cups sugar
2 large lemons
6 sprigs savory
1 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
candy thermometer
1/2 pint or smaller mason jars

Day 1
1. Prepare an icy water bowl or very clean sink with the juice of one lemon. Blanch whole nectarines in boiling water for one minute, just until the skins start to split. Dunk quickly in the icy water bath.

2. Peel, bit and slice peaches. Place in a non-reactive preserving pan with sugar and juice of one lemon. Heat on low until sugar is melted. Turn up heat to medium-high and bring just to a simmer.

3. Place mixture in a large bowl, bury savory sprigs within. Let cool, then place in fridge or another cool place overnight.

Day 2
1. Prepare your canning pot, lids, and jars. Put 2 small plates in the freezer for testing the set.

2. Separate fruit from syrup by either draining in a colander or using a slotted spoon (or both). Place syrup in preserving pan and bring to 221 degrees. Skim foam off top if needed. Add nectarine slices, remove the sprigs of savory as you are doing so. Add the cardamom to the pan 1/4 tsp at a time, stirring and tasting (carefully – it’s HOT!) until you like the strength. Add the cayenne pepper – add it in smaller amounts and taste as you go, if you wish. Bring to the boil again on high heat. Boil for 5 minutes.

Note: At this point, the little bowl of foam I skimmed off the top of my cooked syrup was set into a perfect jelly, so I skipped testing the set. If you’re not sure, proceed to step #3. If you know you’ve got a good set, move on to step #4!

3. Test the set by first turning the heat off. Place a teaspoon of the preserve on a frozen plate. Place plate back in freezer for 30 seconds or so. Run your finger across the plate and through the mixture. If it wrinkles, even slightly, it is sufficiently set. If your finger makes a clean break, place the pan back on high heat and boil for another minute. Try again.

4. Remove hot jars from canner and ladle preserves into jars to within 1/2 inch (1cm) of top rim (headspace). Process 10 minutes.

5. Try not to eat it all at once.

Spiced Nectarine Jam

Click for tigress can jam food blog challenge

My mom has grown red currants for several years, but I never really understood the appeal. They’re tiny fruit that take forever to harvest and the bushes attract aphids like no other plant I know. And for some reason I had convinced myself that I didn’t even like the taste of the berries.

Then, last year, I went raspberry picking with a friend of mine and the farm also had black currants, so we laboured for over an hour to get two baskets of the tiny berries. I brought them home and made black currant jam… and decided currants are my new favourite fruit. So I called my mom and asked her to set aside some of her red currants for me. Those precious berries sat in my freezer until I pulled them out to make this month’s Can Jam recipe. I won’t make the mistake of leaving them unused for that long again!

After my great black currant jam experience, I thought I’d love to add a currant bush or two to my fruit collection, but figured they’d have to go in the ground and I’m pretty much out of room, so I didn’t obsess about it too much. Then one day, while Googling my way around the internet, I learned that currants will grow just fine in containers. So I started keeping my eye out for a black currant bush. I ended up with a “Ben Conan” black currant that is happily growing on my deck in a big plastic container.

Then, yesterday, I went to Humber Nurseries with my mom, and somehow ended up with this little guy in my cart:
Currant "White Pearl"

It’s a “White Pearl” currant. You can see Ben Conan in the background. From the tag:
Ribes sativum “White Pearl”
Height: 125cm
Spread: 100cm
Zone: 3
Growth/Yr: 30-60cm
Clusters of medium-large sweet green-white fruit. Currants grow on 1 and 2 year old wood. Three year old wood should be removed. Ripens late July. Plant in moist well drained soil. Full sun.

So hopefully in July I’ll be canning up a whole rainbow of red, black, and white currant jams and sauces.

Now if I could just figure out how to keep the aphids away…