Preserving the taste of summer with stone fruit pantry essentials

Spicy Plum Marinade

IT’S officially autumn and the end of 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 jam-making and preserving are specialised, time-consuming activities only in the realm of master chefs or country 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.

Nectarine Jam

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 barbecue 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.

The equipment you will need is straightforward and most likely already in your kitchen: a large pot or saucepan, preferably heavy-bottomed, 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 which 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.

To get you started, Juicy Delicious has a collection of stone fruit preserve recipes created by chef and cookbook author, Karen Hart that cooks, from beginner to expert levels, will enjoy.

Peach Atchar on cheese board
  • Peach atchar – yellow cling peaches are combined with onions, garlic, chillies and spices for a truly South African “flavour bomb” sensation that will elevate your warming winter curries.
  • Nectarine jam with a hint of ginger – this easy to make jam offers a burst of summer flavour to brighten the long winter months. It’s an elegant topping for high-tea scones but every bit as delicious on a piece of buttered toast with your morning coffee.
  • Spicy plum marinade – with perfectly balanced sweet and acid notes, this combination of plums, garlic and a special blend of spices will add depth and flavour to your winter roasts, braais and slow cooker dishes.

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