There's something about stone fruits that reminds me of the far-east, spices, tea and whimsical settings.
When I took on canning, I had in my mind images of my parents canning shelves, filled with spaghetti sauce- enough for a year- and my grandma's basement pantry bursting with peaches in syrup, pickled peppers and enough applesauce for the entire family to take some home when we visited.
And though I still hold these lofty goals of putting up an entire year's worth of, well, anything, every month my projects seem to morph into more of a creative experiment than a canning project.
Here I would like to insert some intelligent, Taoist Lao-Tzu quote, but instead I keep thinking of one of my former Chef's favorite sayings, which just seems to say it best- "It is what is is."
Imperial Stone Fruit Preserves
6 1/2 pint jars, lids and rings, sterilized
6 pounds mixed stone fruits
(I used 3 peaches, 2 nectarines, and an assortment of 6 plums)
zest of 1 orange
zest of 1 lemon
zest of 1 lime
juice of 1 orange
juice of 1/2 lemon
juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 tsp 5-spice powder
1/2 tsp ginger sea salt (substitute 1/8 tsp ginger powder and 1/2 tsp sea salt)
3 green tea teabags
1 cup sugar
Blanch fruit in boiling water for 30 seconds to one minute, move to ice water bath and remove skins. Cut fruits into thin slices. In a medium pot, bring fruits, zest, juice, and spices to a low simmer. In a small pot bring 1 cup water to a boil, add tea bags and let steep four minutes. Remove teabags and reduce tea to 1/2 cup. Add tea and sugar to fruit and let simmer until syrupy and passes a set-test, about 40 minutes. Ladle into jars, wipe rims and attach rings and process 10 minutes.
This one is Joe's creation- dark, rich and mysterious in flavor, this confiture would pair with sweets as well as a glass of Cabernet and a thick slice of manchego cheese.
Cherry Cacao Confiture
1 1/2 pint jar and 1 1/4 pint jar, lids and rings, sterilized
1 3/4 pounds dark cherries (1 1/2 pounds pitted)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 cloves, ground
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 Tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp vanilla
dash sea salt
1/2 cup sugar
Wash and pit cherries. In a small pot combine cherries, balsamic vinegar, clove, cinnamon, cocoa powder, vanilla and salt and bring to a low simmer. Let simmer until confiture begins to thicken. Add sugar and stir often, until it reaches a syrupy consistency, about 25 minutes. Ladle into jars, wipe rims, attach lids and rings and process for 10 minutes.
And just in case you wanted to know how to make the scones- here's the extremely easy recipe for those, too.
Whole Wheat Almond Scones
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
8 Tbsp butter
1/3 cup sliced almonds, plus 2 Tbsp
1/3 cup sugar, plus 1/4 cup
3/4 cup milk, plus 2 Tbsp
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Sift flours, baking powder and salt together. Cut in cold butter. Incorporate almonds and 1/3 cup sugar, then stir in 3/4 cup milk. Bring together dough on a floured surface and form into a large disk. Cut into eight pieces, brush the top with 2 Tbsp milk, sprinkle with 1/4 cup sugar and 2 Tbsp almonds. Move pieces to a baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes. Remove and serve with an assortment of jams and whipped cream.