It’s been a really busy month since changing my arrangements from working with Susan Crawford to being based once again down south. I have been going on a mad knitting frenzy (which is frankly nothing new), and am designing a special tank top for my Dad which is to him a necessity so that next year, when he does, he’ll feel ‘properly retired’. There’s been a fair bit of wedding planning going on, some really interesting times working in the museum, some social media consulting and I have been carrying out some research for a couple of articles as well.
As it’s the summer here, it has been a really busy time in the garden and our harvest is in full swing. There’s been cooking and canning galore, which leads me to a lovely recipe that I have discovered and adapted this year: it’s a tasty, tasty nectarine jam which is proving to be a big hit. I have been perfecting it for a few months and here is the definitive version.
Although I’d love to say that we grew the nectarines in our garden, I’m afraid that they have come from sunnier climes. At the moment we’ve a bumper crop of potatoes, but yummy jam that does not make.
To make the jam, you will need:
2.5kg/5lb nectarines – not too ripe
1.5kg/3lb jam sugar
a dash of vanilla essence and a pinch of salt
You will also need a perserving pan, jars, jam pot covers, a jam funnel, a ladle and a saucer.
Prepare the peaches by washing them and cutting them into rough chunky slices. Make sure that you keep two of the stones. Put the peaches into the preserving pan. At this point also place a saucer into your fridge to cool, and turn your over to approx 150 degrees celsuis.
Weigh out the sugar and add it to the pan. Mix the ingredients and bring to the boil, stirring occassionally to make sure all of the sugar is dissolved and to prevent the jam sticking to the bottom of the pan.
Crack the two peach stones that you kept and take out the kernels in the middle. Lightly crush the kernels, to release their nutty flavour and add them to the jam in the preserving pan along with the pinch of salt.
While the jam is coming to the boil, wash your jars in hot water, dry and place in the hot oven to sterilise. You can turn the oven off now. You can use any jars, so don’t throw away any from your shop-bought goods.
Let the jam boil steadily for about 15 minutes before testing it to see if it has reached setting point. You test for this by spooning a little of the boiling jam onto the chilled saucer and leave to cool for 10 seconds or so.
If the surface of the jam wrinkles when you push it with your finger, the setting point has been achieved. If not, boil the jam for a little longer and test it again. It should not need to be boiled for longer than 30 minutes.
Turn off the heat and stir in a little butter or margarine to help remove any film. Leave to stand and cool for about 30 minutes: this prevents the fruit sinking to the bottom of the jars when decanted.
Ladle the jam into the sterilised jars using the jam funnel before sealing with jam pot covers or lids. In Britain you can buy packs of jam pot covers comprising wax disks, cellophane covers, elastic bands and sticky labels. I use these, but you can also buy jars with lids. I believe there is a different canning system in America which uses special jars and lids, so use whichever way you are happy with.
Be sure to also mark your jam with the date it was made and show off that you made it too. I used the ones that I had in my kitchen drawer, but since then, discovered these pretty ones on Marnie McClean’s blog that you can download here.
Last step: go and find some crusty bread and enjoy it!