This simple, low sugar white nectarine jam uses a splash of rose water at the end of cooking to give it a hint of floral flavor. Try it stirred into yogurt!
A couple weeks back, I got an email from one of my regular fruit dealers, asking if I might be interested in a half bushel of white nectarine seconds. Despite the fact that white nectarines need a bit of extra consideration in preserving (they’re lower in acid than their yellow counterparts), I said yes. Because they are transcendently good nectarines.
When I was in grad school and on a very tight budget, I’d go to the farmers market each week with $20 to spend on produce. If I was careful, I could get just enough to see me through the week. When these nectarines were in season, I would allocate one-quarter of my budget to spend on them. I would ration them throughout the week, so that I could have a taste of sweetness every day.
So to have nearly 25 pounds of nectarines that had once been a major treat? I was all in. I’ve spent much of the last couple weeks working with these nectarines. I combined them with plums for a mixed fruit jam. I’ve pureed them down and made fruit leather with them. And I’ve also turned them into a pure white nectarine jam. This is a jam with plenty of lemon juice to make up for their lower acidity and a tiny bit of rose water, to emphasize the nectarine’s floral nature.
As with all seconds, these needed a little careful knife work to prep for the jam. My rule of thumb when working with seconds is to cut away anything that looks particularly gross, but not to obsess too much over every single shallow bruise. Whenever I’m in doubt, I give it a good sniff. If the bruised part smells fresh and fruity, I use it. If it smells boozy and weirdly off, it gets thrown out.
The finished white nectarine jam retains a rosy color that I just love. This is one that I’m particularly careful about storing out of direct sunlight, so as to retain that pink hue for as long as I can.
- 6 pounds white nectarines, pitted and chopped
- 3 cups granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup bottled lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons rose water
- Prepare a boiling water bath canner and enough jars to hold between 4 and 5 pints of product.
- In a large, non-reactive pot, combine the chopped fruit (no need to peel nectarines, their smooth skin breaks down nicely during cooking), sugar, and lemon juice.
- Set the pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook the fruit for 30-40 minutes, until the volume has reduced by at least 1/3 and it no longer looks watery.
- When you're satisfied with the consistency of the jam, remove the pot from the heat and stir in the rose water (its flavor is fragile and so I don't add it until the active cooking time is up).
- Ladle the jam into the prepared jars.
- Wipe the rims, apply the lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes.
- When the time is up, remove the jars and set them on a folded kitchen towel to cool. When the jars have cooled enough that you can comfortable handle them, check the seals. Sealed jars can be stored at room temperature for up to a year. Any unsealed jars should be refrigerated and used promptly.
Because this is a lower sugar jam that doesn't use any added pectin, I approach it a bit like making fruit butter. I cook at a lower temperature than I would with a true jam and count on simple reduction to get me to a thickened consistency. However, as a result, this jam is always going to have a softer set than you'll get with higher sugar jams with added pectin. If you can't deal with jams that retain a goodly amount of movement once in the jar, this isn't the preserve for you!