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Preserve Summer

We may be enjoying stone fruit now, but let’s keep some aside for the cooler months.

We agree that plums, peaches and nectarines are best enjoyed at the peak of freshness, but by preserving them, you can enjoy summer goodness throughout the winter months.

Stone fruit – which all have a pit or stone in the centre – are all so different, and each of them has several varieties of varying colours, tastes and textures, all of which ripen at different times throughout the season until early this month. High in vitamin C and other vital nutrients to boost your immune system and help protect you against colds and flu, there are several ways you can preserve stone fruit … jams, stewed fruit, compotes, purees, coulis and chutneys, or simply freeze for mid-winter snacking, baking and making delicious smoothies.

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Food writer Karen Hart shared some of her favourite stone fruit preserving recipes … the perfect Easter long-weekend project.

Plum & Coriander Chutney

Plum and coriander chutney is a tantalising condiment to brighten up your cheese platter. It also goes very well with roasts, especially pork. This makes eight jars of 250g each.

You’ll need: 1 x 15cm cinnamon stick; 2 Tbsp coriander seeds; 1 tsp black peppercorns; 2kg red plums; 2 large onions, chopped; 5 garlic cloves, chopped; 2 red chilies, deseeded and chopped; 1 x 5cm piece of fresh ginger, grated; zest and juice of 2 limes; zest and juice of 1 lemon; 2 cups red wine vinegar; 2-and-a-half cups brown sugar

To make: Grind the cinnamon stick, coriander seeds and peppercorns in a spice mill or with a mortar and pestle until you have a fine powder. Halve and stone the plums and roughly chop. Put all the ingredients in a large saucepan or preserving pan and bring slowly to the boil, stirring often to dissolve the sugar.  Once the sugar has dissolved, simmer gently for an hour until the chutney is thick. Stir frequently to prevent the chutney from sticking to the bottom and burning. Once the chutney is reduced and thickened, turn off the heat and allow it to cool for about 20 minutes. Ladle into sterilised jars and cover with vinegar-proof seals. Store in a cool, dark place for at least a month before using.

Plum Jam

Karen’s plum jam is an easy and delicious way to preserve your plums to perk up your breakfasts and desserts. This makes about seven jars of 250g each.

You’ll need: 1kg plums, halved and pitted; 4-and-a-quarter cups granulated sugar; 4 Tbsp of lemon juice

To make: Put all the ingredients in a large glass bowl, cover with cling wrap and leave to stand overnight in a cool place.

The following day, prepare the jars first (see hacks).

Put the plums, sugar and lemon juice in a large saucepan or preserving pan and bring to a boil over medium to high heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon.

Remove the scum that has formed on the surface. Let the jam boil for about 20 minutes.

Using a small ladle, fill the prepared jars to the top with the jam, while it’s still hot.

Carefully wipe off any spills on the outside of the jars, then seal with airtight lids. Leave to cool, then store in a dark, dry place.

Tip: Before you start cooking the jam, place a saucer in the freezer. When you want to test for a set after boiling the jam for 20 minutes, spoon a dollop of jam onto the cold saucer. Give it a few seconds. If you can draw your finger through it and it stays separated, your jam is ready.

Nectarine & Pistachio Preserve

Dessert peaches and nectarines are so versatile when it comes to preserves. You can use either here. Makes 5 jars of 250g each.

You’ll need: 1kg ripe yellow-flesh nectarines; 3-and-three-quarters cups granulated sugar; Freshly squeezed juice of 2 lemons;

half a cup pistachio nuts, chopped

To make: First, peel the nectarines Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Meanwhile, cut a cross with a sharp knife in the base of each nectarine. When the water is boiling, drop in the fruit, turn off the heat and leave for 3 to 4 minutes. Drain the nectarines and slip off the skins. Dice the fruit and discard the stones. Put the nectarine flesh, sugar and lemon juice into a large saucepan or preserving pan and bring the mixture slowly to the boil. Cook it at full rolling boil for about 20 minutes, skimming of the scum that rises to the surface. Stir in the nuts and simmer for a minute or two before testing for a set. Ladle into hot, sterilised jars and seal.

Freezing and bottling hacks

Hacks for freezing fresh stone fruit: The best way to freeze fresh plums, peaches and nectarines is to ‘dry’ freeze them. Slice fruit into bite-size pieces, lay them in a single layer on a tray lined with baking paper, and place into the freezer. Once completely frozen, put the pieces into portion-sized freezer bags. By freezing the individual pieces before bagging them, you prevent them from clumping. Alternatively blitz your favourite fruit and make delicious juice that can be frozen in a sealed container to preserve the fresh taste of summer.

Hacks for sterilising your jars: Wash the jars in warm, soapy water, rinse well and place in an oven pan, lined with a clean tea towel. Place in a preheated oven at 110ºC for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Peach & Raspberry Conserve

Karen says this conserve goes perfectly with a really good vanilla ice cream or a plain sago pudding. It’s a spectacular addition to a festive Pavlova. It makes about three-and-a-half jars of 250g each.

You’ll need: 700g ripe dessert peaches, peeled, stoned and diced; 1-and-a-half cups fresh raspberries; 2 cups granulated sugar; Juice of 1 lemon

To make: Layer the fruit and sugar in a large glass bowl, cover with cling wrap and leave overnight at room temperature.

Put the fruit, sugar and lemon juice in a large saucepan or preserving pan and gently simmer for 20 minutes or until the fruit softens. Turn up the heat and bring to a boil. Boil for 20 minutes until it reaches setting point. Remove the saucepan from the heat while you test for a set.

Ladle into warm sterilised jars and seal. Store in a cool, dark place and refrigerate after opening.

Feel inspired? Follow @juicydelicioussa on Instagram or visit www.juicydelicious.co.za for more tempting stone fruit recipes.

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