Thanks to a lovely ‘Luna’ influence the waves are big and rolling and the tides are high. The ocean is at its beautiful best. It is somewhat wild and unpredictable out there but at times like this, I find the surf completely and utterly irresistible.
My adventurous spirit was challenged to dive right on in yet my reckless streak has left me with a ‘rashed’ cheek. And I can tell you, this is not the cheek you want to have a rosy glow upon either! Nothing like the dump of a huge shore break to give you the wildest and most wonderful ride of your life though. I guess, if you want to get out and play with the big boys, then you need to be prepared for a little heart-ache along the way but there is nothing that good old soothing Savlon cannot fix.
We are also on the cusp of Easter, the days will shorten soon, we are having the most beautiful late afternoon sun-showers and evening rain storms and the year is slipping by so quickly.
On the way home from the surf, I stopped in at the local farmers market and picked up some peaches and plums with the thought to ‘preserving’ a little taste of sunshine for when the grey and wintery days finally do arrive. I think the stone-fruit trees may well be sighing their final breath while giving up the last of their yield now, so it is the perfect time to ‘bottle’ before these lovely trees take a much deserved break. I also wanted to add this blog post as I had promised a reader that I would post my recipe for ‘Preserved Peaches in Ginger and Vanilla Bean Syrup’ and I always keep my word.
I am using the lovely blue Mason jars I bought back from America. I have used them previously to serve cocktails and deserts in and as vases, and I recently used them for their intended purpose of preserving. I do love the beautiful hue of the glass however preserves and chutneys don’t really look that appealing in them but frankly, if that is all I have to carp about in my kitchen then I am fortunate indeed. So, on to my ‘Preserved Peaches in Ginger and Vanilla Bean Syrup’ and then ‘Plums in Vanilla Nectar’.
I made a batch of syrup simply by placing sugar and water in a tall stock pot. It was equal parts sugar to water and it is the same ratio I use to make sugar syrup for my cocktails. I peeled and sliced a largish piece of fresh ginger and halved a vanilla pod and scrapped out the seeds before adding them to the syrup. I then let the syrup simmer and infuse before adding the peaches in very small batches to poach.
I used white and yellow peaches and allowed them to submerge for about three to four minutes each then removed them with a slotted spoon. I placed them on a dish lined with paper towel and allowed them to cool before pinching off the skins. If you have asbestos fingers, and I don’t, you can removed the skins immediately. I sliced the peaches in half, removed the seeds and sliced them again and once more for good measure before placing the segments into the hot sterilized glass. I ladled the hot syrup over the fruit and sealed the containers immediately. Doing this will ‘vacuum seal’ your jars.
I kept the vanilla bean pod aside then made a fresh batch of syrup. I added the vanilla pod but not the ginger this time. I really enjoyed working with the plums, they are far less laborious than the peaches. I cut them in half, removed the stems and seeds and immersed them in the lovely liquid for a few moments. The skins become almost papery and once the fruit is removed from the syrup the skins very easily peel off. I added the halves to the waiting jars then put all of the removed plum skins into the syrup and let it steep for about ten minutes. The nectar takes on a beautiful rosy tone from the color leaching from the skins. With the syrup hot and blushing, I sieved it and poured it over the plums. Again, I sealed the jars straight away.
I used: Washed and sterilized Mason jars, yellow and white peaches (washed), a variety of plums (washed), equal parts water to sugar, fresh ginger peeled and sliced, one vanilla bean halved with the seeds scraped. I chose fruit that was not blemished and that was also not too ripe.
Method for Peaches: I washed my jars and then ‘cooked’ them in the oven on around 170 degrees for about 15 minutes. I made the syrup by placing equal parts water and sugar in a tall pot. I sliced the ginger, halved and scrapped out the fresh vanilla pod and once the sugar had dissolved I added these to the syrup. I bought the mix to a gentle simmer and let the ginger and vanilla infuse before poaching the peaches (in small batches of 3-4 peaches at a time). I then lifted them out with a slotted spoon, allowed to cool then removed the skin. I sliced the peaches and put the segments into the jars then ladled in the syrup. I always ladle to the rim of the jar and to cover the peaches. I put the lids on and allowed the jars to cool at room temperature in order to create a vacuum seal. Your lids should gently concave.
Method for plums: Make a fresh pot of syrup and use the vanilla pod again. Cut each piece of fruit in half and remove the stem and stone. Quickly submerge the fruit into the nectar, remove the skins (if you choose) and place the plum halves into awaiting sterilized jars. You can add the removed skins to the syrup and let the lovely color leach out on a gentle simmer. Strain well, pour the hot liquid over the plums and seal the jars to create the vacuum.
Both preserved fruits are lovely served with homemade vanilla bean ice-cream or fresh clotted cream.
My domestic goddess moment over, little jars of contentment stored on the pantry shelves in readiness for winter, the recipe posted as promised for Emma, a wish to all for a wonderful and safe and very happy Easter and I believe……. it is now time for a G&T xx