We’re just a step ahead of the South African winter, but you might not be ready yet to let go of all the deliciousness of summer fruits. These are the last couple of weeks to stock up on fresh stone fruit such as peaches, nectarines and plums, and get creative in your kitchen. Traditionally, autumn is the season of jam-making and bottling, so that summer produce can be preserved to brighten up the winter months.
Some of our most favourite jams are made with stone fruit – who can resist peach or plum jam, baked into tarts or topping a warm scone on a cold winter afternoon? However, stone fruit are amongst the most versatile of fruits; and jams, jellies and conserves are only one good way to preserve them. For instance, peaches are also the hero ingredient in ‘flavour bomb’ condiments such as chutney and achar; and plums are the rich stars of sticky barbeque or Asian-style dipping sauces, marinades and glazes.
However, you don’t have to be a stickler for tradition to get into the fun of making the joy of stone fruit last until the next summer. There are plenty of contemporary methods and uses that will wow your family and friends.
Here are some ideas:
· Give your stone fruit jams, jellies and conserves a foodie twist by adding complementary spices or herbs or a splash of your favourite alcohol. For instance, vanilla adds sweetness and depth to plum jam while cinnamon, nutmeg or cardamon will add spicy warmth. Herbs such as basil, rosemary and thyme will add a modern, bright and savoury note.
· Try your hand at stone fruit syrups and cordials for something different. Peaches, nectarines and plums are all excellent options. Adding flavourings such spices or citrus balance the sweetness while adding either brightness or warmth. Stone fruit syrups can be used to top desserts or as the hero ingredient in dessert recipes or smoothies. They are delicious as a coulis for sweet or savoury dishes. Kids can enjoy them as a fresh, hydrating cordial diluted in still or sparkling water, and grown-ups can add them to cocktails.
· Use bottled or canned peaches in modern ways – Preserved peaches will always be a delight in classic pies and cobblers or simply topped with ice cream. However, you can also grill them to add to salads and grain bowls, include them in your morning smoothie or chop them up for a spicy salsa.
· Make some boozy fruit jars for your fun winter get togethers. Think plums in gin, brandied peaches and nectarines soaked in vodka or red wine. This is such an easy adult treat as you simply place washed fruit pieces soaked in your favourite liquor in sterilised, sealable jars and store in a cool, dark place. The alcohol acts as a preservative and boozy fruit jars can last for several months in airtight jars.
· Learn how to sterilize your jars and bottles – According to La Parfait, the French glass-making company which has been producing jars, bottles, and terrines for preserving food since the 1930’s, this is easy to do at home. Make sure that your lids and seals are in good order and check the rim of the bottles and jars for any chips or cracks in the glass. You want an air-tight fit, so the condition and quality of your jars and bottles matter – luckily, La Parfait products are locally available! Just before use, wash the glass bottles and jars as well as their lids in warm, soapy water. Rinse them in hot water and then let them air dry on a clean dish rack, making sure that the lids and bottles are not stacked or touching each other.
To get you off to an inspired start, here are two stone fruit recipes presented by Juicy Delicious and created by Saadiyah Hendricks, recipe developer and food content creator at Sadie’s Bubble of Yum.
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