02 March 2013

The week of the nectarines

One of the best things about shopping at the farmers' market is the availability of seasonal fruit in bulk. Last Saturday whole boxes of slightly imperfect nectarines were selling for $10. Our box had about 8.5kg of fruit.

What to do with 8.5kg of nectarines? 

First project: jam


Tyson based the jam roughly on this recipe. About 2.5kg of nectarine flesh (after stones were removed - no need to peel) produced the quantity of jam shown above.

So many people have reacted with surprise when I mentioned making nectarine jam that it has caused me to think about how strongly our perception of what is or is not 'legitimate' food is shaped by what is available in supermarkets. There is no Cottees or IXL nectarine jam and therefore it doesn't register on the radar when a big box of nectarines is available. Unlike strawberry jam, which a box of ripe strawberries fairly cried out to me in large letters, despite the fact that I don't buy strawberry jam as it is not my favourite.

Nectarine jam is so, so good. WAY better than strawberry jam, and easier to make, as the pectin content is higher in nectarines than strawberries (the thing that helps it set - I didn't know that six months ago either).

If not jam, then smoothies: 

Two peeled nectarines, hearty dollop of vanilla yoghurt, about a cup of milk. Blend.

Or baked nectarines:



Tyson did one tray simply adding cinnamon or vanilla sugar to each half fruit and baking uncovered for around 20 minutes (pictured). He did a second tray as follows: 

Line well-greased baking tray with baking paper. Halve the nectarines, drizzle a little brandy on each half, then sprinkle sugar on each. Put a small lump of butter on each. Pour about 100ml water into the bottom of the pan. Cover with alfoil or a baking tray and bake for 20min in a 200°C oven. Take the cover off and sprinkle a little more sugar on each, then back into the oven for 10min to finish.

The brandied ones came out softer than the cinnamon ones - more of a stewed than baked finish.

Or just eat them. Many of the 'slightly damaged' nectarines in our box were much more delicious than the 'perfect' ones usually available.


They ran out by Thursday, so I can assure you we had no trouble putting away the whole box.

Market day today: Nectarines $5 a tray. Our tray weighed in at just short of 7kg. So the week of the nectarines is extending into a fortnight... at least...

Initial Time: Clare: five minutes to make a smoothie. Tyson: three hours for jam; about 20 minutes for baked nectarines. I love being married to a man who likes to cook...

Initial Cost: $10 (and now another $5 for week two)

Ongoing time or cost commitment: zero - in fact, a cost saving as we won't be buying jam any time soon. Or possibly ever again, if we keep up the bulk fruit jamming a couple of times a year.

Impact: As when I wrote about using bulk strawberries (jam and pulp) and freezing plums, this is more about shifting my thinking than having a large impact as a single action. Still, we have managed again to use local fruit in season and make a small reduction in the food miles and packaging required to source our food.

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