Sunday, August 15, 2010

Waste Not Want Not

I absolutely HATE wasting food.  Maybe it's because my father was a child of the Depression.  Or maybe it's because I have such respect for the people who spend their (looooong) days growing delicious, wholesome foods for us to eat.  Or maybe I'm just cheap.  Whatever the answer I simply get really angry when I find I've wasted something.

In the summer I often cannot control myself at the farmers markets.  OK maybe not just in summer but go with me here.  All of the luscious fruits seem to call out to be purchased.  And stone fruits (peaches, plums, cherries, nectarines) are my absolute favorites. That is how I recently found myself with about 10 pounds of various stone fruits stashed in several bowls in my kitchen.  This is where I remind you that three people live in my apartment and one of them is under the age of 7.  Unless I wanted three people with very upset tummies or felt the urge to let something *gasp* go to waste clearly I had to do something with some of the fruit before it went beyond the point of no return and had to be tossed.

I know canning is trendy these days.  And I've done it.  And I'll do it again.  But at 9 PM on a Tuesday I'm not going to embark on a project of that scale.  So I decided to make a freezer (refrigerator?) jam.  Meaning - I would stick the results in the fridge and eat the jam before it went bad.    No pretty jars with artfully designed labels tonight.  I will definitely make this again and preserve it properly when I have the time.  The thought of summer perfectly preserved in a gorgeous spicy, sweet, ruby haze is too powerful not to make this again.  (Picture to come - promise)

Plum and Peach Confiture (That's a fancy word for preserves.  Can you tell I read "Fancy Nancy" at bedtime tonight?)
Yields approximately 4 cups

6 cups stone fruit, pitted and diced (I used peaches and plums all on the cusp of going from delicious to mushy)
3/4 - 1 c sugar (I tend to go less sweet especially when I'm not using proper canning methods and just storing in the fridge)
1-2 TBS cardamom pods (optional but the combination of plums and cardamom is ethereal.  Use ground if you have it - just go down to about 1 tsp)
1" piece of ginger, peeled
Juice and rind of 1/2 lemon (just juice the lemon and toss in the pulp/rind - you'll strain it out later)

  • Combine everything in a large non-reactive pot that can hold all of the ingredients. 
  • Bring to a boil and stir to dissolve the sugar. 
  • Reduce to a strong simmer (you want some bubbles breaking the surface) and cook, until the fruit has broken down and resembles a chunky applesauce-like texture (about an hour). 
  • Allow to cool. Remove pods, ginger and lemon. Store in the refrigerator for about 3 weeks or freeze in small portions for up to a year and defrost as you need it.
Great as a topping on yogurt with crunchy granola.  Delicious on ice cream or pound cake (especially grilled pound cake with frozen yogurt, creme fraiche or ice cream - a simple elegant summer dessert). I've been eating it on well done whole wheat English muffins with a thin shmear of cream cheese for breakfast. It also makes a nice accompaniment to a cheese plate.

And I'd be lying if I said it wasn't perfect by itself on a spoon while standing in front of the fridge.  Not that I've eaten it that way.  Or plan to. Ever.

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