Tag Archives | Washington State Fruit Commission

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.

Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Pinterest

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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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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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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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