Tag Archives | Washington State Fruit Commission

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!


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!


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.


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).


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.


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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Peach Habanero Hot Sauce

This peach habanero hot sauce brings sweet, gentle heat to all your favorite foods. Make sure to use peaches at the pinnacle of ripeness for maximum deliciousness.

finished peach habanero hot sauce

I am not someone who goes for crazy hot foods. I firmly believe that eating should be grounded in pleasure rather than pain or discomfort. However, I do believe that there’s something uniquely appealing about sauces that allow for the careful, targeted application of gentle heat.

And so, when I develop hot sauce recipes, they are relatively mellow, mild ones that enhance rather than sear. Dealer’s choice, as it were.

quick peeling peaches for peach habanero hot sauce

That’s all to say that this may well be the most tame peach habanero hot sauce you’ll ever encounter. If you’re someone who likes to be challenged by your condiments, this probably isn’t the recipe for you. However, if you like sweet, easygoing heat, you are in the right place.

peppers for peach habanero hot sauce

For this recipe, I used the peeling technique described in this post (quarter peaches, lay them in a heatproof baking dish, bring kettle to a boil, pour over peaches, rinse with cold water, peel). Once peeled, they went into a big pot with diced onion, a sweet orange pepper, six seeded habaneros (wear disposable gloves!), garlic, vinegar, a little sugar, lemon juice, and salt.

ingredients for peach habanero hot sauce

I simmered everything over medium heat while making dinner, giving it a stir on occasion and breaking up the peaches with my spatula with every turn. Once the peaches were totally tender and the onions were translucent, I used an immersion blender to puree the sauce smooth.

peach habanero hot sauce in pot

I canned the sauce in some of the barbecue sauce bottles I got from Fillmore Container, though you could just as easily use 12 ounce jelly jars. I look forward to opening one up in a couple months, when it’s had time to mellow even more.

Oh, and in case you missed my post yesterday, this hot sauce was made with peaches from the folks at the Washington State Fruit Commission. I made this Gingery Peach Butter with the other half of the peaches. Nectarine recipes are still to come.

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Honey Sweetened Gingery Peach Butter

This naturally sweetened gingery peach butter is fragrant, flavorful, and brightly hued. It’s great stirred into yogurt or eaten directly from the jar with a spoon.

close up of gingery peach butter

A couple weeks ago, the annual box of peaches and nectarines arrived from the folks at the Washington State Fruit Commission. This is the seventh summer I’ve been part of their Canbassador program. I always enjoy the challenge of finding new and delicious ways to preserve all that goodness.

quartered peaches for gingery peach butter

This year, I’ve made four different preserves. Today, I’m sharing a recipe for Gingery Peach Butter. Tomorrow, I’ll have a batch of Peach Habanero Hot Sauce. Next week, you’ll see recipes for Nectarine Conserve and Nectarine Ketchup.

pressure cooked peaches for gingery peach butter

I’ve got a new trick to tell you for prepping peaches. For this preserve, instead of peeling them, I gave them their initial cook in a pressure cooker (an Instant Pot, to be exact). The added heat and pressure helped break the skins down. That made it possible to blend the skins into the pulp for a perfectly smooth puree.

pureed peaches for gingery peach butter

Now, if you don’t have a pressure cooker, it doesn’t mean that you can’t make this preserve. But in that case, you might want to peel the peaches to ensure a lush, smooth texture.

cooked gingery peach butter

Once your peaches are pureed, you add just a little bit of honey and three heaping tablespoons of grated ginger and cook it down. Wanting to retain a softer texture and brighter color, I didn’t take this one as far down as I sometimes do. That makes it’s a lighter spread, better for drizzling over pancakes and stirring into yogurt.

five pints of gingery peach butter

How have you been preserving your peaches this summer? Continue Reading →

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Sweet Cherry Barbecue Sauce

Sweet cherry barbecue sauce. It’s bright, tangy, and perfect for the summer cookout season.

A four ounce jar of sweet cherry barbecue sauce

A couple weeks ago, just before I headed out of town to teach my Omega workshop and then go to my cousin’s wedding, I did a bunch of canning. I made roasted peach jam. I made a tiny batch of gooseberry jam. And I made a batch of sweet cherry barbecue sauce, using three pounds of cherries from my Canbassador booty.

Three pounds of sweet cherries in an All-Clad stock pot.

I have mixed feelings about barbecue sauce. I think this is, in part, because of my parents’ position on the stuff. My dad loves it (and once invested in a friend’s sauce making venture) and my mom can’t stand it. What’s more, I’ve spent the entirety of my adult life without any grilling space. So my ability to make things appropriate for barbecue is limited at best.

Three pounds of simmered sweet cherries for barbecue sauce.

However, in recent years, I’ve discovered just how good these homemade sauces are when poured into slow cookers and used as a tasty braising medium for things like pork shoulders and boneless, skinless chicken thighs. And so, I’ve gradually expanding the number I make each year.

The finished yield of sweet cherry barbecue sauce.

Whether you’re a huge fan of barbecue sauce or you’re lukewarm on the topic, I highly encourage you to explore this one!

Oh, and a quick tip about pitting cherries for things you’re going to cook down. Instead of working each one through the cherry pitter, remove the stems and heap them into the pan you’re going to use to cook the sauce. Add half a cup of water, cover the pot, and simmer the cherries for 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove the pot from the stove and let it cool. Then, reach in and use your fingers to pop the pits out of the cherries. Wear gloves if you’re concerned about staining your fingers. It takes no more than 10 minutes to pop the pits out of the cherries when prepped this way. Easy.

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Lightly Pickled Sweet Cherries

Lightly pickled sweet cherries in jars

Sour cherries are one of my very favorite things to preserve. Sadly, thanks to a late freeze back in April, it is proving to be a very bad year for stonefruit in the Philadelphia region. Sour cherries are proving to be very hard to come by.

two and a half pounds of sweet cherries in a colander

Instead of bemoaning the 2016 sour cherry situation (though I must confess, I was able to get some from my friends’ community garden, so I’m not totally without them this year), I decided to take some of the sweet cherries from the Northwest Cherries shipment, and do what I could to give them a flavor profile similar to that of a sour cherry.

quartered cherries in the sink

I measured out two and a half pounds of the sweet cherries and using my trusty paring knife, cut them in quarters and wiggled out the pits (I don’t like using cherry pitters, because I resent how much cherry flesh you lose with every pit. Quartering them is fiddly work, but so much more of the fruit ends up in the pot).

lightly pickled sweet cherries in a stainless pot

Once the cherries were prepped, I combined them with sugar, apple cider vinegar, and lemon juice and let them sit until all the sugar was dissolved. Then I set the pot on the stove, brought it to a boil, and cooked the fruit until the cherries were tender (but not falling apart) and the liquid had thickened slightly.

Lightly pickled sweet cherries in jars close-up

Towards the end of cooking, I took a tiny taste of the syrup in the pot and was so happy with the results. Bright, sweet, and just tart enough that you feel a pleasant shiver in the back of your throat. This is one for sparkling water, pairing with cheese, or eating with a pork chop.

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Cherry Swag Bag Giveaway from Northwest Cherries

Cherries in a bowl for the cherry swag bag giveaway.

Earlier this week, I got a box containing a little over 10 pounds of sweet, ripe Northwest Cherries from Washington State. I look forward to this shipment every summer and each time it arrives, I can’t quite believe my good fortune. After all, cherries are among the most precious of the summer fruit.

These cherries come to me as part of my participation in the Canbassador program. It’s an awareness campaign that the folks from Northwest Cherries and the Washington State Fruit Commission run in order to shine a spotlight on their beautiful stonefruit!

This is my seventh year participating in their Canbassador program (wrap your mind around that one!) and over that time, I’ve developed a whole bunch of recipes featuring their fruit.

Next week, I’ll start posting my 2016 recipes, but before we get to those, I have some fun news. This year, I’m not the only one who is going to get a box of delicious cherries. One of my lovely readers is also going to get a shipment of delicious Northwest Cherries, along with a swag bag that will contain a cherry branded water bottle and Oxo cherry pitter.

This cherry swag bag giveaway has a tight turnaround because we’ve got to pick a winner before the season ends (and cherries come and go quite quickly)! Use the Rafflecopter widget below and make sure to tell your friends.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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