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Hot Pack Spiced Cherry Preserves

These spiced cherry preserves are a tasty way to put up this most precious of summer fruit. Sweet, spicy, and tender, they’re a good companion for breakfast, cheese plates, and dessert!

Last Thursday, a big box of sweet cherries arrived from the nice folks from the Northwest Cherry Growers. I’ve slowly been working through them (look for black raspberry and cherry jam, cherry and meyer lemon marmalade, and more coming at you soon) and on Monday night, I used three pounds for my Facebook Live demo.

These preserved cherries (pitted but left whole) are simmered in a syrup that’s been spiced with cinnamon, cloves, star anise, and black peppercorns. They soften and slump, but retain enough texture that they’re a good companion for cheese plates, yogurt parfaits, and damp slices of buttery poundcake. I think you’ll like them!

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Nectarine Conserve with Lemon, Raisins and Walnuts

This nectarine conserve features thin slices of whole lemon, plump golden raisins, and toasted walnuts. Add it to your next cheeseboard!

nectarine-conserve

I firmly believe that conserves are poised for a resurgence in popularity. Much like how old fashioned names are all the rage with today’s parents, conserves represent a bygone age of preserving that is ripe for renewal. Truly, their time has come!

ingredients-for-nectarine-conserve

For those of you not in the know, conserves are typically defined as a soft set jam, with the addition of dried fruit, citrus peel, or nuts. They are good alongside various cheeses, they can enhance cold roast chicken, and they’re delicious stirred into bowls of oatmeal or other warm grain cereals.

sliced-nectarine-for-nectarine-conserve

This particular nectarine conserve was made with some of the fruit that the nice folks from the Washington State Fruit Commission sent me back in August. I realize that waiting this long to share this recipe puts us at the outer edge of nectarine season, but I did spot some at my local farmers market last weekend, so there are still a few to be had (in a pinch, frozen peaches would also work here).

nectarine-conserve-in-the-pot

Like so many of my recipes, this nectarine conserve uses as little sugar as seems reasonable, and tries to be as no-nonsense as possible. I left it relatively unspiced, but next time around, I might add a little freshly grated ginger, or a teaspoon of cinnamon. You can, of course, spice it to your heart’s content.

nectarine-conserve-close-up

Finally, if stonefruit is well and truly gone in your area, consider making this very same recipe with just-ripe pears. The finished preserve won’t have the same vibrancy of color, but will still be quite tasty.

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Small Batch Apple Cranberry Compote

apple cranberry compote side

On Monday night, I did a canning event at the Mullica Hill Library in Gloucester County, NJ. When I was planning out the event with the librarian many months back, I suggested I demonstrate a recipe for apple cranberry compote. It seemed like just the thing for mid-October, what with Thanksgiving and the gifting season rapidly approaching.

The only trouble was at the time, I didn’t actually have an apple cranberry compote recipe in my personal preserve arsenal. I had jams, sauces, and chutneys, but no compotes.

So, with the demo rapidly approaching, I spend a little time over the weekend working one up. It starts with 4 large apples (peeled, cored, and diced), 1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries (rinsed and picked over), and 1/2 cup water. You combine those three things in a saucepan, set them over medium-high heat, and simmer them until the cranberries pop and the apple chunks soften.

apple cranberry compote top

Once the fruit is tender and most the water has evaporated, you add 1 cup of granulated sugar, a teaspoon of cinnamon, and the zest and juice of a lemon. You cook for another 8 to 10 minutes, until the compote looses its watery look and the apples can be easily crushed with the back of your spoon.

When you like the consistency, you funnel it into jars, wipe off the rims, apply the lids and rings, and process the closed jars for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath. When the time is up, pull the pot off the heat, remove the lid, and let the jars cool gradually for a bit. Depending on how much sugar you use, the yield will be between 3-4 half pints.

This is a highly flexible preserve. You could sweet it with honey instead of sugar (use 2/3 cup). To add a bit more flavor from the start, cook the fruit down in apple juice or cider instead of water. Add some freshly grated ginger, or a bit of cloves for an even more autumnal flavor. As long as you don’t add any low acid ingredients like onions or garlic, you can tweak the spices and liquids as much as you like.

However, even the most simple version is quite delicious.

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Honey-Sweetened Roasted Nectarine Compote

four jars roasted nectarines

I’m back home in Philly after a week out west. I always have grand plans for blog posts while traveling, but the moment I leave home, it becomes nearly impossible to get my brain into the writing game. But now that I’m back, I’m determined to work my way through my lengthy recipe backlog before the seasons change for good.

roasted nectarines

Today, a very lightly sweetened compote of roasted nectarines. The nectarines caramelize a tiny bit as they cook in the heat of the oven and end up tasting like the pie filling that oozes out during baking. In other words, not bad at all.

nectarines in a pot

You could do this same thing with peaches, though I’d probably peel them first, as I find that peach skins never tenderize, no matter how much you cook them. It is not an issue with nectarines and for that, I am grateful.

nectarines in jars

The nectarines I used in this recipe were part of the shipment of fruit that the nice people from Washington State Fruit Commission and Sweet Preservation sent out as part of their Canbassador program. Here are the many things I’ve made using their fruit in past years.

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Apricot and Sweet Cherry Compote

finished cherry apricot compote

This is a blog post about preserving fruit, but on second read, I realize that it’s also about going with the flow of life. 

I didn’t get as many apricots into jars this year as I like. I ordered my annual half-bushel from Beechwood Orchards like I always do, but it arrived at the start of that week when my mother-in-law went into the hospital, which was also the same week as the photo shoot for my next book.

While I did do my best to prevent the apricots from going bad, at least a quarter of them ended up succumbing to mold before I could cook them down.

prepped cherries and apricots

Instead of feeling bad about the waste (I’m trying to spend less time beating myself up about my inevitable shortcomings), I’m focusing my efforts on celebrating the apricot preserves I was able to make. This apricot and cherry compote is one such victory.

cooking cherry apricot compote

Much like the peach and cherry preserve I wrote about on Wednesday, this simple preserve employs just three ingredients. Because it contains a relatively low amount of sugar, it ended up with a fairly sloshy consistency. Thankfully, I’m okay with that.

finished cherry apricot compote close

You see, one of the privileges of being the preserver is that you get to set the expectations for each finished batch. I will often go into a preserving project thinking I’m making jam, only to realize that I’ve ended up with a preserve, compote, or sauce. Instead of struggling with the outcome, I embrace what is. Being flexible saves a great deal of heartache in the end.

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International Can-It-Forward Day and Curried Fruit Compote from the Ball Blue Book

compote fruit assortment

Saturday, August 1 is the fifth annual Can-It-Forward day. This yearly event is organized and hosted by Jarden Home Brands, the company that makes all of our beloved Ball and Kerr products. In the past, they’ve offered a day of live streaming canning and jar usage demonstrations from New York City. This year, they’re bringing the festivities home to their new headquarters in Fishers, Indiana.

apricots

Last year, I hopped a train up to New York and joined the fun in Brooklyn. This year, I’m really excited to be heading to Indiana for the weekend to demonstrate my recipe for Sweet and Tangy Pickled Blueberries. I’ll have that recipe for you all in a couple weeks. Today, I want to talk about an entirely different preserve.

curried fruit compote recipe

As we were planning ways to get the word out about this year’s Can-It-Forward day, the nice folks from Ball Home Preserving suggested that I could pick out a couple of recipes from the Ball Blue Book to share with you guys. I went flipping through and picked out a handful of options. One that we settled on was the Curried Fruit Compote on page 134 of the newest edition of the book.

cantaloupe

I chose this one because I’ve been digging compotes lately (they’re so easy! And such a good way to capture fleeting summer fruit) and I was intrigued by the idea of an assortment of adding a savory spice blend like curry to a heap of sweet fruit.

curry powder

So, after a busy week of photo shoots and book edits, I went to my local product market to round up a ripe pineapple, a not too ripe cantaloupe (so that it would hold its shape after cutting), three pounds of peaches, and a lime (I already had the necessary apricots from last weekend’s half bushel).

bowl of chopped fruit

With products like this, the bulk of the work is in the preparation. Once you’ve peeled the peaches, pitted the apricots, seeded the cantaloupe, and tackled the pineapple, the cooking happens in a snap. I brought my curry-spiked syrup to a boil as I was finishing up removing all those pesky eyes from the pineapple and then once it was bubbling, heaped the fruit into the pot.

all the fruit in the pot

Once the fruit seemed to be heated through, I used a slotted spoon to portion out the fruit into a two-cup measuring cup and filled up the jars. The recipe in the book called for quart jars, but I opted for pints instead, because I knew that it would be a better, more usable portion for my household (and I kept the processing time the same, just to be safe).

finished compote

Once all the jars were filled, I had a few bobbing bits of fruit in the pot. I tasted a hunk of pineapple and the curry flavor was pleasantly mild. I think that come winter, I’ll be pairing this compote with scoops of cottage cheese for easy workday lunches.

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