Sunday, September 1, 2013

Spiced Nectarine Preserves

I recently tried a spiced nectarine preserve (or at least, that's what I'm guessing it was) with goat cheese on a crisp, thin bread slice that had been baked with olive oil.  I was at a wedding and the bride is foodie, urban homesteader, and event planner.  It was, of course, a beautiful, delicious farm reception, complete with handmade marshmallows for fair trade chocolate s'mores we made ourselves over a bonfire during a stunning sunset.  Her brother catered, the groom served a homebrewed saison, and wood-fired pizzas were made, while we watched, with locally grown ingredients.  We ate on locally crafted wood tables with sweet, small bouquets of flowers most likely picked on the farm.  It was an affair after my own heart.

And as soon as I tasted those preserves, I knew I had to try to make them.  And lucky for me, nectarines are in season; so I asked my friend/farmers market vendor selling nectarines if they had any overripe fruit they couldn't sell, picked up multiple pounds of the stuff, did some recipe research, waited for the sun to set and the weather to cool a bit before building up a sweat over a hot stove, and came up with this...

6 cups chopped nectarines (remove pits but keep the skins - the pectin is in the skin), from Smit Orchards
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice, from a Schaner Farm lemon
3 cups rapadura sugar
rounded 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves
a slightly crushed cardamom pod (try to fish it out before canning)
a scant pinch of ground cayenne, just for kicks
1 teaspoon homemade vanilla extract

Cook fruit, juice, & sugar at a soft boil for 30-minutes; reduce heat if needed to prevent burning.  Stir often and skim off foam from the surface.  Stir in spices, turn off heat and stir for 5 minutes.  Ladle into sterilized canning jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.  Wipe rims and jars clean with a damp cloth.  Seal each jar with a lid and barley tighten bands.  Process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

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