It’s nectarine season. Each year I’m blown away by how much I love the fruit. So sweet! So juicy! So perfect! (There I go again with my wild adjectives.)
We dry most of the nectarines ‘cause I prefer dried ‘reenies to canned or frozen ‘reenies which tend to get mushier than I like, though they are still plenty good. So I leave the peaches for the jars and the nectarines for the dehydrator and it all works out in the end.
This is what happens when you drink a glass of white wine while filling the dehydrator trays: a few chunks of fruit somehow end up splashing into the glass—shplink, shplank, shploosh. The glass drained, you’re left with the bits of wine-infused fruit. Mmm.
One of Sweetsie’s morning jobs was to unload the trays.
Nickel helped me reload the trays this morning. While doing so, he kept up a non-stop, happy chatter. It got so bad that I finally sat down at my desk to take notes. I could hardly keep up with the barrage of words that poured from his mouth:
Good grief, Mom. I have to do all this stuff. I’m grumpy. Uhh… Whoa, my WORD. I’m almost to the end—whoa! I’m doing all this STUFF… The ones that fall on the table I can eat… Mom. I maked crossed over crossers. I’m doing crossed. Mom, look what I’m doing. Look what I’m doing else, Mom. Mom. MOM!
Yesterday I made a nectarine tart. It’s not at all pretty to look at, kind of drippy and crumbly, maybe even a little gross. But the taste—oh, my starry firmaments, the taste!—belongs in Seventh Heaven. The firm fruit softens and melts and the rich butter crust gets a heavy glazing from the tart-sweet syrup, turning it tacky like toffee. My crust must’ve had holes everywhere because the syrup oozed all over the bottom of the pan, glazing the top and bottom of the crust. It made it a bugger to serve, but it was so wow-good that I forgave it its shortcomings and began to scheme ways to get a two-sided glazed crust every time.
Breakfast was oatmeal with brown sugar, chopped nectarines, and nectarine-blueberry-white chocolate muffins. I have plans to make a couple varieties of nectarine cobblers/grunts/crisps/buckles, and I also made this jam.
Mr. Handsome took one taste and then burst forth with “Wow. That is GOOD.” His pleasure was so devoid of pretense it was almost embarrassing! My shock quickly changed to intense love and adoration. “Aw honey, you said the right thing!” I cooed, seizing the opportunity to increase the spirit of jammy good will and happiness.
It’s just a couple nectarines blended up real good with a couple cups of red raspberries and then sweetened and thickened in the manner of most freezer jams. It reminds me of sour-sweet gummy candy but without any of the artificial chemical-ness. Gummy candy is my weakness; therefore, this jam is now my weakness.
I’m giving you the recipe with the same proportions as the original even though my batch didn’t set up all the way. There could be a couple reasons for this minor hitch. It could be because my nectarines are humongo-large (though I don’t quite think they are). Or it could be because I didn’t strain out the seeds (I like seedy jam; is that weird?) choosing instead to give the fruits a prolonged, mighty blitz in the food processor.
And really, when it comes down to it, a slightly runny jam isn’t the end of the world. I just think of it as a fruity honey.
But even so, I’ll be tweaking the recipe, attempting to shape it up into perfect jelly-like submission. When I do, I’ll report back. Until then, here you go:
Updated on August 12, 2010: Reporting back from the fruity front lines… I made it again, using two cups of chopped nectarine (which equaled two nectarines). The jam set up almost immediately and was quite thick. As a result, I think 2 ½ cups of chopped nectarines would be about perfect.
2 or 3 nectarines, washed, pitted, and roughly chopped (about 2 ½ cups)
2 cups red raspberries
4 cups sugar
½ cup sure-jell (or 1 3/4-ounce box powdered fruit pectin)
3/4 cup water
Whiz the fruits for a full minute in the food processor.
Measure the sugar into a bowl and stir in the fruit puree. Let it sit for 10 minutes, stirring periodically.
Combine the sure-jell and water in a saucepan and bring it to a boil over high heat, whisking steadily. Hold it at a full boil for one minute, still whisking non-stop.
Dump the sure-jell water into the fruit and stir for three minutes. Pour the jam into jars, lid, and label. Let them sit at room temperature for 24 hours before transferring to the freezer.
Yield: 5-6 cups of jam