Over the years, I’ve read many lists of tips for bloggers. One tip that stuck with me is “Don’t apologize if you haven’t posted for a while.” I agree. It would feel terribly self-important to apologize. I don’t know about you, but there are only a few bloggers I’d miss if I didn’t hear from them consistently, especially these days when we’re ceaselessly drenched in a digital downpour. When a familiar voice reaches me through the storm, I do smile, but I’m content with the quiet, too.
If anything, I’m sorry that I’m posting a stone fruit recipe when the season has quit for most folks. I have good excuses. When I made this jam in August, I was away in Alaska with no connectivity whatsoever. Also, Stewart and I got married in Fairbanks, so I was preoccupied. (I may have just buried the lead, but this post really is about nectarines.)
So what about nectarines? I’d never turned them into jam before, and I wouldn’t have thought to do it — we don’t get a lot of surplus nectarines at home –except Stewart had the bright idea (truly, it was) to bring a bag of about twenty not-yet-ripe nectarines into the wilderness. That meant we got to enjoy eating them out of hand for about a week, until the rest came due all at once. Sometimes it’s a handy thing to have a jam-maker’s hat in your back pocket.
Nectarine jam is easy to make, but I did encounter a couple of questions while preparing it. Nectarines, like peaches, are very wet. Would the liquid evaporate before the fruit overcooked? No problem. Granted, this is a small batch — just a pint for the fridge — but a bigger batch would work fine, too. I think the idea is to use a wide, heavy pan so the mixture isn’t too deep. That maximizes evaporation and keeps the cooking time short. I might quadruple the quantities below if I were going to can this recipe, but probably wouldn’t do more than that.
Also, what about the skins? They’re fine. The skins melt into the jam in a wonderful way and I suspect they improve the color, too.
2 cups chopped nectarines (about 7 medium-sized pieces of fruit)
2/3 cup sugar
freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
1. Wash the nectarines and roughly chop them into pieces of about 1″ square. Leave the skin on.
2. Combine all ingredients in a glass or ceramic bowl, cover tightly, and let sit for at least 4 hours. (If you macerate the mixture for only a short time, there’s no need to refrigerate. If I were going to let the bowl sit overnight or longer, I’d put it in the fridge.)
3. After macerating, puree 1/2 of the mixture using a food mill, blender, or VitaMix. (If you use a food mill, return the skins to the puree.)
4. Place the mixture (both the macerated and pureed parts) in a 3-quart, heavy bottomed saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and cook at a steady but gentle boil until the mixture thickens. Stir frequently to prevent sticking or scorching. When the jam is done, you’ll see clear tracks across the bottom of the pan when you stir, and it will start to mound up a bit on your spoon. (You can also use the freezer test to check for doneness.)
Makes about 1 pint for the fridge. As I mentioned above, I might quadruple these quantities if I were going to can this jam, and I’d cook it in an 11-quart, wide-bottomed jam pan.