Preserve the taste of summer with these pantry essentials

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We’re nearing the end of summer, and the stone fruit season.  Traditionally, this is the time to don your kitchen apron and make good use of the end of season fruit by stocking up your pantry ahead of the winter months.

Some home cooks think that jam-making and preserving are specialised, time-consuming activities only in the realm of master chefs or countryside cooks with lots of practice.  Yet, making preserves is actually simple, creatively rewarding and can be done in any kitchen with just a stove top.  The sight of your pantry shelves lined with neat bottles of the flavourful fruits of your labour is almost as satisfying as being able to surprise friends and family with a golden-baked mid-winter cobbler redolent with the succulent peaches you preserved yourself.

Stone fruit is ideal for a wide variety of jams, conserves and condiments as well as sweet and savoury sauces that capture their delicious flavours and sweet juiciness. Plums with their jewel-rich colours, luscious texture and unique sweet-and-tart flavour profile are particularly versatile as they pair well with many different herbs and spices. Apart from the simplicity of smooth plum jam or fruity plum conserve, these stone fruit are the hero ingredients in Asian-style dipping sauces and sticky barbeque sauces which will boost the bounty of your pantry.  Nectarines and peaches are also used to make popular jams and conserves as well as sweet compotes and syrups, and savoury atchars and chutneys.

Set yourself up for success

The equipment you will need for preserving stone fruit is straightforward and most likely already found in your kitchen.  You will need a large pot or saucepan, preferably heavy-bottomed.  Utensils such as a large, long-handled spoon for skimming foam off the top of bubbling jam, a wooden spoon for the occasional stirring, as well as a spatula, ladle and funnel for filling the jars are all useful.  You will need airtight glass jars and bottles with perfectly sealed and fitting lids such as the ones available locally from French glassmaker, La Parfait.  Sterilising your jars and bottles may sound like a serious procedure, but it just entails washing them well in warm, soapy water, then rinsing them in clean hot water and leaving them to air dry on a clean dish rack.  You can get this done in a few minutes while your preserve is gently on the boil.

Here are a few recipes to inspire you for your stone fruit pantry essentials from Karen Hart for Juicy Delicious:

Spicy Plum Marinade

Ingredients

2 kg plums, halved and stoned
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp fine ginger
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 liter cider vinegar
1 head of garlic, peeled, crushed and finely chopped
750 g sugar

Method

Place all the ingredients, except the sugar, in a large preserving pot and slowly bring to the boil. Boil for 20 minutes or until the fruit is soft.

Let it cool down and put it through a mouli or coarse sieve (or the blender of a food processor). Return to a cleaned pot and add the sugar. Bring to the boil, stirring frequently to ensure that the sugar dissolves.

Simmer the mixture for an hour until the sauce is thick and creamy. Pot the plum sauce into hot sterilized bottles and seal. Refrigerate after opening.

 

Peach Atchar

Image supplied by Juicy Delicious

Ingredients

2,75 kg yellow cling peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced
3 large onions, chopped
5 red chilies, seeds and membranes removed and finely chopped
5 garlic cloves, crushed
2 Tbsp coriander seeds
1 Tbsp black peppercorns
2 tsp fine ginger
7 cups brown vinegar
1½ cups sugar
2 Tbsp mild curry powder
2 Tbsp corn flour
2 tsp salt
1 tsp turmeric

Method

Prepare the peaches, onions, chilies and garlic. Tie the coriander and peppercorns in a piece of muslin.

Add the ginger to 6 cups of the vinegar and place the muslin bag into the mixture. Heat to boiling point.

Mix the rest of the vinegar, the remaining 1 cup, with the sugar, curry, corn flour, salt and turmeric. Add the mixture with the peach slices, onion, garlic and chilies to the vinegar mixture.

Cook for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the spice bag and discard. Pot into hot sterilized jars and seal.

 

Nectarine Jam with a Hint of Ginger

Image supplied by Juicy Delicious

Ingredients

1½ kg nectarines, sliced and pitted
2 cups of sugar
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated or finely chopped

Method

Stir together the fruit and sugar in a large pot over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Mash the fruit with a potato masher. Add lemon juice and continue to boil, stirring frequently. Boil for 15 – 20 minutes. Take care to frequently remove the foam from top. Stir in the ginger. Turn off the heat, allow to cool for 10 minutes. Pot the jam into hot sterilized jars, leaving about 2 cm space at the top, and seal.

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