Summer is over. Sort of. Here in South West Australia, Summer is still hanging on by a thread throwing in an above 30 day every now and then and keeping the woolens at bay. But the seasons are surely changing and with the seasons comes a welcomed change in the local produce. Pears and apples replace nectarines and peaches, root vegetables are plentiful and our beautiful summer fruits are being cleared by the box full at farmers markets all around this farming region. I picked up this box of gorgeous, sweet, nectarines (over a month ago, I’ll admit) for less than $5. We gorged ourselves on them until we couldn’t eat any more and the rest were destined for cold winter nights by the fire. A little taste of summer to break through the winter frost.
Preserving fruit is a skill from the time of our grandparents, a forgotten art of cooking that has almost been lost by time and convenience. We can buy out of season fruit and vegetables all year around in our local supermarkets… we have access to whatever we want, whenever we want it…
But that doesn’t mean we should.
Besides, there is nothing quite like the sweet, sticky taste of freshly boiled stone fruit and honey that runs down the spoon when you have just-one-more-taste… There is something magic here.
PRESERVED HONEY NECTARINES
3kg of farm-fresh spray free nectarines
1/3 cup raw sugar
1 cup raw local honey
5 cups of water
You will need jars (make sure they are well sterilized), lids and a water-bath canner for this recipe.
Wash nectarines well in water and halve and remove the stones. I prefer to leave the skin on the nectarines out of sheer ease but also I think they are just that little bit tastier.
Slice the nectarines into quarters.
In a large cast iron pot add water, sugar and honey and heat until bubbling. The sugars will dissolve creating a thin, sweet, sticky syrup. Begin to add the fruit one layer at a time to the syrup until the fruit is hot and bubbling. Add the fruit to the jars and ladle hot syrup over the top leaving at least half an inch clear of the rim and ensure there are no air bubbles. Continue doing this until all of the fruit has been processed.
Wipe the rims of the jars and add the tops and rings being careful not to over tighten. Process all packed jars through a water bath canner for about 20 – 25 minutes.
Simple. Honest. Old fashioned. My grandma would be pleased.
Once you’ve taken the jars out of the water bath, leave them on the bench for 12-24 hours before you check the seals. Check the seals and tighten the rings, any jars that haven’t sealed properly need to be refridgerated and consumed in the next 2-3 days…
I had one jar not seal properly, pretty safe to say it didn’t last longer than a few hours with Bo and I around.
Put your sealed jars into your pantry and leave them be until a cold night in the middle of winter when you’re missing the sweet nectar of summer stone fruit… crack open the jar and bake the contents in a pie or crumble, pour hot custard over the top, add to a warm bowl of wholesome porridge or just eat them straight out of the jar while sitting on the cold tiles in the kitchen when you’re having one-of-those-days. Share them with the kids… if you want.