Tag Archives | Sweet Preservation

Washington State Cherries, Peaches, Nectarines, and Plums

Every summer for the last eight years, I’ve teamed up with the folks at the Washington State Fruit Commission. As one of their Canbassadors, they send me boxes of fruit. I take those cherries, peaches, nectarines, and plums into my kitchen and then share how I transform them into various batches of jams, pickles, butters, compotes, and conserves.

This year, they sent me three separate shipments of fruit. In late June, it was 18 pounds of sweet, juicy cherries. At the beginning of August, two flats of fragrant peaches and nectarines. And right around Labor Day, a box of sturdy Italian plums (they are a perennial favorite in my kitchen).

I made a bunch of really great stuff with all this fruit, but as the intensity of the summer ratcheted up, I’ve not done as good a job at getting those recipes from my kitchen scratch pad to this site. So here’s what I’ve done. I’ve created individual posts for each of the unshared recipes (to make them more easily searchable) and then I’ve rounded them all up here. Much of these are out of season for this year, but perhaps you’ll remember one or two for next year.

Cherries

Peaches and Nectarines

Italian Plums

And for anyone who’s keeping track, here’s what I’ve made in past years with my Canbassador fruit.

If you want to see what some of the other Canbassadors have done this year, make sure to follow the Washington State Fruit and Northwest Cherries folks on social media, as they’ve been sharing all the posts. Here’s where you can find them.

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Spiced Plum Jam

When I was very young, my family lived in an old house in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Eagle Rock. We had a trio of plum trees that produced great heaps of fruit every other year. My parents would fill paper grocery bags with plums and pass them out to friends and neighbors. Even after those bags were distributed, there were always more plums.

My mom would always make two or three batches of delicious, runny plum jam, spiked with cinnamon and bright with lemon zest that we’d eat on oatmeal, pancakes, and yogurt. Because of those preserves, the flavor of plum jam satisfies my deepest taste memories in a way that other jams can’t touch.

This recipe is my attempt to recreate that childhood jam. The only difference is that I use a bit of pectin to ensure that mine has a firmer set than the batches my mom used to make.

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Plum Conserve with Golden Raisins and Toasted Walnuts

This plum conserve is a condiment that veers a bit of the more commonly tread canning ground. However, once you try it, I’m certain it will become one of your regular pantry players.

A jar of plum conserve with golden raisins and walnts

Italian plums are one of my favorite things to come out of late summer. Sturdy, sweet, and with a flavor that improves upon cooking, they are a fabulous primary ingredient for all manner of jams, spreads, and compotes.

Finished plum conserve in the pot

This particular conserve (it’s the addition of dried fruits and nuts that turn a basic preserve into a conserve) is a good gift giving, serving at holiday gatherings, and eating with a spoon when you’re craving something sweet.

A detailed look at a single jar of plum conserve

I canned my batch in a collection of mismatched pint jars (we’re getting to the end of the canning season and I’m starting to run short on smaller jars), but because a little goes a long way, you’d be better off opting for half pints.

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Peach Jam with Brown Sugar and Bourbon

This peach jam is sweetened with brown sugar and is spiked with a few tablespoons of bourbon, for a sweet, boozy spread.

Back in August, the Washington State Fruit Commission (follow them on Instagram for lots of fruit inspiration) sent me a big box of peaches and nectarines. I made a juicy nectarine tart, a batch of mixed fruit compote, and a batch of this smooth peach jam with brown sugar and bourbon.

I chose to use brown sugar as the sweetener, because it has a rich, molasses-y flavor that plays nicely with both peaches and bourbon. And while I could have left the jam chunky, I like to have some jams in my pantry that can double as a drizzle for desserts and ice cream. This one fits that bill nicely.

When it comes to adding booze to jams and preserves, I typically pour them in during the last few minutes of cooking. My goal is to evaporate the alcohol, but retain the flavor. However, you could certainly add the bourbon a little later if you wanted the finished jam to be a little more spirited.

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Sweet Cherry Meyer Lemon Marmalade

Time is running out on cherry season but there’s still time to make this Sweet Cherry Meyer Lemon Marmalade! And if you can’t find Meyers, regular lemons will also do (thought get organic if you can!).

Seven jars of Sweet Cherry Meyer Lemon Marmalade

Back in early July, the good folks from the Washington State Stone Fruit Growers sent me a giant box of cherries as part of this year’s Canbassador program (8th year! Crazy!). I shared a recipe for spiced cherry preserves and another for sweet cherry ketchup, and then life got a little crazy (vacation! work travel! an endless cold!).

lemons and cherries for Sweet Cherry Meyer Lemon Marmalade

I promised I’d share recipes for the final two things I made with my cherry shipment, and I’m going to fulfill half that promise tonight with this recipe for Sweet Cherry Meyer Lemon Marmalade (I can’t find my notes from the cherry black raspberry jam, so that recipe may be lost until next season when I can take another stab at the combination).

I’m also motivated to get this recipe up because while sweet cherries are still available fresh, I hear that they’ll be around stores for no more than another week or two. So while we’re on clock here, it is still possible to make this preserve this year!

Ingredients in the pot for Sweet Cherry Meyer Lemon Marmalade

I’ve made a lot of different things with sweet cherries over the years and I’ve found that the preserves I like the best are the ones in which I aggressively temper their sweetness with tart, tangy, and sour flavors (case in point, these lightly pickled sweet cherries).

In the case of the this marmalade, I use a full pound of Meyer lemons to bring the pucker. These particular lemons were grown by the always-delightful Karen of Lemon Ladies Orchard and I hear she’s got a few summer lemons available, should you need to get your hands on some.

a close up on the jars of Sweet Cherry Meyer Lemon Marmalade

I approach this recipe over the course of two days. On day one, the cherries are stemmed, heaped in a pan with a cup of water, and simmered until soft. Then they’re left to sit overnight until cool. Simultaneously while the cherries do their initial cook, the lemons are cut into slivers, placed in a roomy bowl and covered them with two cups of water. They also soak overnight (this helps soften the rind and makes for a more pleasing finished texture.

The next day, you pinch the pits out of the cherries, add the lemons and their water, along with four cups of sugar. Finally, you boil it all down into a pleasingly sweet, tart, and spreadable marmalade that married seasons and flavors beautifully.

Oh, and one last thing. Should you want to see what some of the other Canbassadors have done this year, make sure to follow the Washington State Stone Fruit folks on social media, as they’ve been sharing all the posts. Here’s where you can find them.

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Sweet Cherry Ketchup

Last month, the folks from the Northwest Cherry Growers sent me 18 pounds of sweet cherries (it’s my 8th year participating in their Sweet Preservation Canbassador program). After eating a couple pounds in a single sitting, I got down to the work of preserving. I made some whole fruit preserves, cherry and Meyer lemon marmalade, a batch of cherry and black raspberry jam, some cherry ketchup, and used up the rest in a mixed fruit jam.

I managed to share the recipe for the Spiced Cherry Preserves and then totally lost my blogging mojo. So this week, I’m going to try and make up for lost time while fresh cherries can still be had. I’ll link up this post as I get the recipes published. Here’s the first one.

A few notes. The recipe calls for pitted cherries, but you can also use the technique described here if you want an easier route to getting those pits out. If you’re not sure what you would do with cherry ketchup, know that it’s delicious on burgers and with roasted sweet potatoes. And if you’ve got them, feel free to use fancy sauce bottles, as described in this post.

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