Preserving Stone Fruit For Nutritious Winter Enjoyment

Plums, peaches and nectarines are best enjoyed at the peak of freshness but by preserving their bounty you can enjoy summer goodness throughout the winter months.

Known collectively as stone fruit as they all have a pit or stone in the centre, each of the three fruits comprises several varieties of varying colours, tastes and textures, that ripen at different times throughout the season until early April.

March is a good time to stock up on the last fruit of the season to preserve them for the winter months ahead. Stone fruit is 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 such as jams, stewed fruit, compotes, purees, coulis and chutneys. Freezing is another easy and fool proof way to stock up for when the fruit is no longer in season. Fresh stone fruit freezes well for snacking, baking and making delicious smoothies all year round. Stewed fruit also freezes easily for later use in delicious crumbles or desserts.

Food writer Karen Hart has put together her favourite stone fruit preserving recipes to delight your taste buds all year round.

Her nectarine and pistachio preserve takes ordinary jam to new levels of flavour with a bit of crunch, just perfect on toast or as a condiment to complete a cheeseboard.

Give your braai a deliciously fruity twist with Karen’s spicy Chinese plum sauce. It will add extra zing to sticky braai ribs or use it to baste a pork joint or chops to give them extra flavour. This sauce also works its magic with stir-fries.

Karen’s other inspiring stone fruit preserving ideas include peach and raspberry conserve, ideal for serving with vanilla ice cream, sago pudding or Pavlova. Her plum jam is an easy and delicious way to perk up your breakfasts and desserts. Plum and coriander chutney is a tantalising condiment to brighten up your cheese platter and enrich roasts, especially pork. Plum, apple and onion relish is a winner with cold meats and adds a splash of colour to any platter.

Hacks for freezing fresh stone fruit:
The best way to freeze fresh plums, peaches and nectarines is to ‘dry’ freeze them. Slice the fruit into bite size pieces, then lay them in a single layer onto a tray lined with baking paper. Place into the freezer and once completely frozen, place the pieces into portion sized freezer bags. By freezing the individual pieces before bagging them and returning them to the freezer prevents 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.

Feel inspired by following @juicydelicioussa on Instagram or visit http://www.juicydelicious.co.za for more tempting stone fruit recipes.


Nectarine & Pistachio Preserve

By Karen Hart
Makes about 5 jars of 250g each

Ingredients:
1kg ripe yellow-flesh nectarines3¾ cups granulated sugarFreshly squeezed juice of 2 lemons½ cup pistachio nuts, chopped

Method:
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 – 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.

Tip: You can use dessert peaches instead of nectarines in this recipe.


Spicy Chinese Plum Sauce

By Karen Hart
Makes 1 litre

Ingredients:
2kg ripe plums (You can use plums of any colour for this recipe.)5 – 6 medium sized onions, choppedcloves from 1 head of garlic, peeled and chopped20cm fresh ginger, peeled and chopped1 cup soy sauce4 cups apple cider vinegar4 red chilies, deseeded and chopped 5 cups brown sugar6 star anise, ground

Method:
Cut the plums in half and remove the stones.
Put all the ingredients, except the sugar and star anise in a large saucepan or preserving pan.
Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until or the ingredients are very soft. Pass the ingredients through a mouli or course sieve and return to the cleaned saucepan or preserving pan.
Add the sugar and star anise and bring back to the boil, stirring frequently to ensure that the sugar dissolves.
Simmer for an hour until the mixture is thick and creamy.
Pour the sauce into sterilized bottles and seal with vinegar-proof lids.


Peach & Raspberry Conserve

By Karen Hart
Makes about 3½ jars of 250g each

Ingredients:
700g ripe dessert peaches, peeled, stoned and diced1½ cups fresh raspberries2 cups granulated sugarJuice of 1 lemon

Method:
Layer the fruit and sugar in a large glass bowl, cover with clingwrap 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.

Tip: This conserve goes perfectly with a really good vanilla ice cream or a plain sago pudding. It is a spectacular addition to a festive Pavlova.


Plum Jam

By Karen Hart
Makes about 7 jars of 250g each

Ingredients:
1kg plums, halved and pitted4¼ cups granulated sugar4 Tbsp of lemon juice

Method:
Put all the ingredients in a large glass bowl, cover with clingwrap and leave to stand overnight in a cool place.
The following day, prepare the jars first.
Wash them in warm, soapy water, rinse well and place in an oven pan, lined with a clean tea towel, in a preheated oven at 110ºC for 10 minutes.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
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.


Plum & Coriander Chutney

By Karen Hart
Makes 8 jars of 250g each

Ingredients:
1 x 15cm cinnamon stick2 Tbsp coriander seeds1 tsp black peppercorns2 kg red plums2 large onions, chopped5 garlic cloves, chopped2 red chilies, deseeded and chopped1 x 5cm piece of fresh ginger, gratedZest and juice of 2 limesZest and juice of 1 lemon2 cups red wine vinegar2½ cups brown sugar

Method:
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 sterilized jars and cover with vinegar-proof seals.
Store in a cool, dark place for at least a month before using.

Tip: This chutney is the perfect condiment to brighten up your cheese platter. It also goes very well with roasts, especially pork.


Plum, Apple & Onion Relish

By Karen Hart
Makes about 5 jars of 250g each

Ingredients:
5 plump garlic cloves1 x 10cm piece of fresh ginger2 green chilies, deseeded and chopped1kg Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and chopped5 – 6 medium sized onions, chopped500g red plums, stoned and chopped1½ cups apple cider vinegar1½ cups granulated sugar1 Tbsp salt2 tsp chopped fresh sage

Method:
Put all the ingredients, except the sage, in a large saucepan or preserving pan and bring to the boil.
Stir frequently until all the sugar has dissolved.
Bring to the boil, lower the heat and simmer for 40 – 60 minutes until it is reduced and thickened.
Stir in the sage and continue to simmer for another 5 minutes.
Ladle the relish into hot sterilised jars and cover with vinegar-proof seals.

Tip: This relish goes perfectly with cold meats and adds a splash of colour to any platter.

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