Plums, peaches and nectarines are best enjoyed at the peak of freshness but by preserving their bounty you can enjoy summer goodness throughout the winter months.
Known collectively as stone fruit as they all have a pit or stone in the centre, each of the three fruits comprises several varieties of varying colours, tastes and textures, that ripen at different times throughout the season until early April.
March is a good time to stock up on the last fruit of the season to preserve them for the winter months ahead. Stone fruit are high in vitamin C and other vital nutrients to boost your immune system and help protect you against colds and flu.
There are several ways you can preserve stone fruit such as jams, stewed fruit, compotes, purees, coulis and chutneys. Freezing is another easy and fool proof way to stock up for when the fruit is no longer in season. Fresh stone fruit freezes well for snacking, baking and making delicious smoothies all year round. Stewed fruit also freezes easily for later use in delicious crumbles or desserts.
Food writer Karen Hart has put together her favourite stone fruit preserving recipes to delight your taste buds all year round.
Her plum jam is an easy and delicious way to preserve your plums to perk up your breakfasts and desserts.
Plum and coriander chutney is a tantalising condiment to brighten up your cheese platter. It also goes very well with roasts, especially pork.
Make the most of seasonal fruit with Karen’s plum, apple and onion relish. It’s a winner with cold meats and adds a splash of colour to any platter.
Peaches and nectarines are as versatile when it comes to preserves.
Her peach and raspberry conserve is a great way to enjoy peaches in winter. The slightly softer set than jam makes it ideal for serving with a really good vanilla ice cream or a plain sago pudding, and it is a spectacular addition to Pavlova.
Capture sweet stone fruit flavour with nectarine and pistachio jam. This recipe transforms plain jam to new levels of flavour and a bit of crunch too, just perfect on toast or as a condiment to complete a cheeseboard.
Hacks for freezing fresh stone fruit:
The best way to freeze fresh plums, peaches and nectarines is to ‘dry’ freeze them. Slice the fruit into bite size pieces, then lay them in a single layer onto a tray lined with baking paper. Place into the freezer and once completely frozen, place the pieces into portion sized freezer bags. By freezing the individual pieces before bagging them and returning them to the freezer prevents them from clumping. Alternatively blitz your favourite fruit and make delicious juice that can be frozen in a sealed container to preserve the fresh taste of summer.
Hacks for sterilising your jars:
Wash the jars in warm, soapy water, rinse well and place in an oven pan, lined with a clean tea towel. Place in a preheated oven at 110ºC for 10 minutes.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
Plum Jam Recipe By Karen Hart
Makes about 7 jars of 250g each
1kg plums, halved and pitted
4¼ cups granulated sugar
4 Tbsp of lemon juice
Put all the ingredients in a large glass bowl, cover with clingwrap and leave to stand overnight in a cool place.
The following day, prepare the jars first.
Wash them in warm, soapy water, rinse well and place in an oven pan, lined with a clean tea towel, in a preheated oven at 110ºC for 10 minutes.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
Put the plums, sugar and lemon juice in a large saucepan or preserving pan and bring to a boil over medium to high heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon.
Remove the scum that has formed on the surface.
Let the jam boil for about 20 minutes.
Using a small ladle, fill the prepared jars to the top with the jam, while it’s still hot.
Carefully wipe off any spills on the outside of the jars, then seal with airtight lids.
Leave to cool, then store in a dark, dry place.
Tip: Before you start cooking the jam, place a saucer in the freezer. When you want to test for a set after boiling the jam for 20 minutes, spoon a dollop of jam onto the cold saucer. Give it a few seconds. If you can draw your finger through it and it stays separated, your jam is ready.
Plum & Coriander Chutney Recipe By Karen Hart
Makes 8 jars of 250g each
1 x 15cm cinnamon stick
2 Tbsp coriander seeds
1 tsp black peppercorns
2 kg red plums
2 large onions, chopped
5 garlic cloves, chopped
2 red chilies, deseeded and chopped
1 x 5cm piece of fresh ginger, grated
Zest and juice of 2 limes
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 cups red wine vinegar
2½ cups brown sugar
Grind the cinnamon stick, coriander seeds and peppercorns in a spice mill or with a mortar and pestle until you have a fine powder.
Halve and stone the plums and roughly chop.
Put all the ingredients in a large saucepan or preserving pan and bring slowly to the boil, stirring often to dissolve the sugar.
Once the sugar has dissolved, simmer gently for an hour until the chutney is thick.
Stir frequently to prevent the chutney from sticking to the bottom and burning.
Once the chutney is reduced and thickened, turn off the heat and allow it to cool for about 20 minutes.
Ladle into sterilized jars and cover with vinegar-proof seals.
Store in a cool, dark place for at least a month before using.
Tip: This chutney is the perfect condiment to brighten up your cheese platter. It also goes very well with roasts, especially pork.
Plum, Apple & Onion Relish Recipe By Karen Hart
Makes about 5 jars of 250g each
5 plump garlic cloves
1 x 10cm piece of fresh ginger
2 green chilies, deseeded and chopped
1kg Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and chopped
5 – 6 medium sized onions, chopped
500g red plums, stoned and chopped
1½ cups apple cider vinegar
1½ cups granulated sugar
1 Tbsp salt
2 tsp chopped fresh sage
Put all the ingredients, except the sage, in a large saucepan or preserving pan and bring to the boil.
Stir frequently until all the sugar has dissolved.
Bring to the boil, lower the heat and simmer for 40 – 60 minutes until it is reduced and thickened.
Stir in the sage and continue to simmer for another 5 minutes.
Ladle the relish into hot sterilised jars and cover with vinegar-proof seals.
Tip: This relish goes perfectly with cold meats and adds a splash of colour to any platter.
Peach & Raspberry Conserve Recipe By Karen Hart
Makes about 3½ jars of 250g each
700g ripe dessert peaches, peeled, stoned and diced
1½ cups fresh raspberries
2 cups granulated sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
Layer the fruit and sugar in a large glass bowl, cover with clingwrap and leave overnight at room temperature.
Put the fruit, sugar and lemon juice in a large saucepan or preserving pan and gently simmer for 20 minutes or until the fruit softens.
Turn up the heat and bring to a boil.
Boil for 20 minutes until it reaches setting point.
Remove the saucepan from the heat while you test for a set.
Ladle into warm sterilised jars and seal.
Store in a cool, dark place and refrigerate after opening.
Tip: This conserve goes perfectly with a really good vanilla ice cream or a plain sago pudding. It is a spectacular addition to a festive Pavlova.
Nectarine & Pistachio Preserve Recipe By Karen Hart
Makes about 5 jars of 250g each
1kg ripe yellow-flesh nectarines
3¾ cups granulated sugar
Freshly squeezed juice of 2 lemons
½ cup pistachio nuts, chopped
First, peel the nectarines
Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil.
Meanwhile, cut a cross with a sharp knife in the base of each nectarine.
When the water is boiling, drop in the fruit, turn off the heat and leave for 3 – 4 minutes. Drain the nectarines and slip off the skins.
Dice the fruit and discard the stones.
Put the nectarine flesh, sugar and lemon juice into a large saucepan or preserving pan and bring the mixture slowly to the boil.
Cook it at full rolling boil for about 20 minutes, skimming of the scum that rises to the surface.
Stir in the nuts and simmer for a minute or two before testing for a set.
Ladle into hot, sterilised jars and seal.
Tip: You can use dessert peaches instead of nectarines in this recipe.