Monday, September 7, 2009

Peach Ginger Conserve

Conserves, which are essentially jams containing dried fruits and nuts, have scared me for a long time. Believe me, I had clear reasons. One, I had never heard of such a thing until I started reading up on canning. Two, I had never had a conserve served to me nor had I ever seen it in a store. Three, I was apprehensive about the idea of nuts and raisins in my jam. My conserve-fear was irrational for it is a glorious thing.

Conserves were popular in old-timey days as a condiment for meat - which I am guessing means it served as a cover for questionable meat that had maybe not seen its freshest days. These days though, I serve it the same way as I would a jam and discovered it made a particularly good crepe filling. There's really no going wrong when peaches, ginger, brandy, raisins, almonds and a hint of orange are combined. So, so good.

For about 8 half-pint jars:
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1/3 cup minced crystallized ginger
  • 1/2 cup brandy
  • 3 cups of pitted, peeled and crushed ripe peaches
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • 6 cups sugar
  • The zest of 1 orange
  • 1/2 teaspoon unsalted butter
  • 2 pouches liquid pectin
  • 3/4 cup very lightly toasted sliced almonds

In a bowl combine the raisins, ginger and the 1/2 cup of brandy. Place in the microwave for 30-45 seconds and set aside while the rest of the ingredients are being prepped.

In an 8-quart pot stir together the peaches, lemon juice, sugar, orange zest, and butter. Drain the brandy off of the raisins and ginger and add them to the pot, reserving the brandy for later. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves. Bring the heat up to medium-high and cook, stirring constantly to prevent scorching. When the mixture comes to a full boil, quickly squeeze both pouches of pectin into the pot and stir for 1 minute. Take the pot off the heat.

Set a timer for 5 minutes and stir in the almonds and a 1/3 cup of the reserved brandy. Stir the conserve once or twice every minute for 5 minutes to distribute the ingredients evenly through the syrup.

Ladle the jam into prepared, hot, sterilized jars and process in a water bath for 10 minutes at 200 degrees. For detailed canning and sterilization procedures, click here.

Adapted from a recipe in Blue Ribbon Preserves by Linda Amendt.

No comments: