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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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July 4th Picnic: Sweet Cherry Chutney

finished cherry chutney

I have spent the last couple weeks preserving my way through a sea of cherries. First came a 20 pound box of sweets from the nice people at the Washington State Fruit Commission as part of the annual Canbassador program. Then, just when I’d finished turning them into chutney, jam, kompot, clafoutis, and shrub, I picked up a flat of sour cherries from Three Springs Fruit Farm. I have one more pound of those to work through from that flat and then I’m done.

cherries for chutney

Happily, cherries were a perfect fit for this July 4th cheese board project. I made a fresh batch of sweet cherry chutney with some of the Canbassador fruit. Paired with a wedge of sturdy blue cheese and piled on those homemade graham crackers, it was pretty darn delicious.

chopped cherries

If you don’t have the time or desire to pit four pounds of cherries (admittedly, it can be a little tedious), I suggest you make a batch of pickled cherries. These can be preserved with the pits still in them and after a few days, they are ready to eat. These honey-sweetened cherries with fresh rosemary would also pair up nicely with that wedge of blue.

chutney in spread

Tenaya posted her tips for stirring up tasty summer sparklers to drink with cheeses today. Make sure to head over there and take a look!

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July 4th Picnic: Spiced Blueberries & Goat Brie

reflective spiced blueberries

Blueberries were one of the very first ingredients that Tenaya and I discussed when we first started talking about creating this 4th of July-themed cheese and preserve picnic. They typically come into season in our area in the last days of June and they can be transformed into all sorts of cheese-friendly preserves.

blueberries in a bowl

Instead of making jam, I opted to make blueberries in a highly spiced, slightly tangy syrup. I wouldn’t call them pickled blueberries, because they don’t pack a huge amount of pucker, but they have a small amount of apple cider vinegar in the preserving liquid to ensure that they taste zippy.

cooking blueberries

We paired these blueberries with a round of goats milk brie and it was an awfully good bite. They were also tasty gently mashed into the homemade graham crackers that Tenaya made. One of our friends who came over to help us eat the cheeses and preserves after our shoot was over was of the opinion that they would also make a very nice addition to a bowl of oatmeal. I wouldn’t disagree.

boiling berries

Like many of the recipes I post here, consider the listed spices as mere suggestions. You can change the flavorings without impacting the safety of the finished preserve. These would be equally good with vanilla beans, lightly crushed cardamom pods, or even some dried hot peppers if you like spicy things.

spiced blueberries and goat brie

You should get three pints of berries from this recipe, with approximately 8 to 12 ounces of liquid leftover. There are two really good things to do with this leftover goodness. You can store it in a jar in the fridge for adding to glasses of sparkling water. Or you can cook it down into a thick syrup that you can then drizzle over slices of toast spread thickly with fresh ricotta. The choice is up to you.

open spiced blueberries

More about our celebratory picnic tomorrow!

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Roasted Rhubarb and Strawberry Compote + OXO GreenSaver

shipped rhubarb

A couple months ago, I started hearing some positive buzz about the new OXO GreenSaver containers. I like to keep a variety of greens on hand for smoothies and salads but it’s always something of a race against time to eat them before they get turn slimy. More often than I care to admit, I’ve pitched the last quarter of a bag because it’s gotten too funky to be good.

rhubarb in the greensaver

In an attempt to waste less, I bought myself the medium GreenSaver and started packing it full of greens as soon as I got them home from the grocery store. After the first week, I was a believer (hallelujah!). Those greens stayed good days longer than they would have if stored in bags in the crisper drawer. Week after week, I used up every last spinach leaf and arugula tendril.

The way the GreenSaver works is that the filter pack absorbs the ethylene gas that ripening produce releases, while improving airflow around the produce, and helping control the humidity in the container (the door the holds the filter pack in place slides back and forth to help either retain or release the moisture).

rhubard after 1 week

So, when I got an email from OXO, saying they were looking for bloggers to participate in a campaign they were running with Melissa’s Produce featuring the GreenSaver containers and an assortment of seasonal produce, I submitted my name for consideration (since I was among the converted).

I danced a small jig when I heard I was picked and waited anxiously for a large GreenSaver and a bundle of rhubarb to arrive.

rhubarb strawberries sugar

Now, this is not the first time in my life that I’ve received produce in the mail as part of some blog campaign. Typically I clear my schedule when I know fruit is arriving, because I know it’s going to need to be used within a fairly short window of time.

In this case, the point was to store the rhubarb for a bit in order to prove the efficacy of the GreenSaver so when it arrived on May 15, I simply trimmed the stalks down enough so that they’d fit in the container and popped them in the fridge.

roasted rhubarb and strawberries

There they sat until the following Thursday. I could have let them go longer, but we were headed out for the long weekend and I wanted to couple those rhubarb stalks with some strawberries and they weren’t going to last until we got back.

After a week in the GreenSaver, the rhubarb was in amazingly good shape. It had aged some, but had it been stored in a plastic bag it would have been unusable (just a few weeks back, I’d neglected some rhubarb in the crisper and it molded and liquified after a five days. It was tragic).

roasted rhubarb and strawberries side of jar

I trimmed the rhubarb into lengths of about 2 inches long and quartered the strawberries. I tossed the fruit with a scant half-cup of cane sugar and rubbed the seeds from a split vanilla bean into the mess.

The pan went into a 350 degree oven and the fruit roasted for 20 to 25 minutes. I like the rhubarb to have retain some structural integrity and so pull it out when it has softened but before it fully disintegrates.

roasted rhubarb in a jar

I like to eat this rustic compote with plain yogurt and a sprinkle of simple granola (Cheryl’s nutmeg crunch would be good too). It’s also good as a topper for oatmeal, pancakes, waffles, and french toast. Hey, I wouldn’t judge if you ate it straight out of the pan (I may have done a bit of that myself).

For more information about OXO GreenSavers, visit their website. If you long for rhubarb and live in a place where it’s hard to come by, Melissa’s Produce has got you covered.

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