Like a rolling stone (fruit)
Since I've launched my jam making biz I'm on the hunt for the best fruit I can find. I took a chance on a flat of organic yellow 'Sweet Dream' peaches from Murray Family Farms out of Bakersfield. I felt good about the purchase after tasting an unripe white peach. If that tasted good they'd likely be awesome once ripe. Needless to say I was NOT disappointed.
I got to work and made two batches. One with organic sugar and one with lavender infused honey. Both with skin on. As much as I wanted the honey batch to blow me away it just didn't quite meet my expectations. The honey was very overpowering and really took away from the peach flavor. The plain batch turned out excellent. Real fresh, peach flavor. I'm not dismayed by the honey batch and will seek out a lighter variety that will complement the peaches and perhaps combine with white peaches to diffuse the harshness. But that's the fun! The experimenting, testing and ultimate mastery.
One customer described it upon first bite as tasting like "summer in a jar". I couldn't have asked for a better testimonial. But she's spot on. Straightforward, fresh peachy taste. When you use fresh, ripe, organic fruit that tastes wonderful raw then you know you'll end up with the best tasting preserves. This flavor has sold out temporarily but I'm fixin' to make another batch this week so check back soon!
The other stone fruit I absolutely love is apricot. Growing up my mother would make this delicious apricot tart. Although the apricots were canned they had a wonderfully plum yet soft texture that lended well for this dessert. She made a sweet pastry crust with vanilla sugar we got at the German market. And for the filling she would simmer the juice from the can and add a couple tablespoons of vanilla pudding to thicken it up. Poured over the top of the apricots and baked in the oven. And always served with fresh whipped cream.
So, when making apricot jam it was automatic for me to add vanilla. It just goes with it in my opinion. The key is finding super ripe fruit. As in too soft to eat but not going bad. I did not skin these either and simply tore them half to remove the pit.
|The scent of gently simmering apricots in their own juices, a little sugar, lemon juice and vanilla is divine.|
The resultant concoction is rich, sweet, a little tart with balanced perfectly with the addition of pure vanilla. This would be incredibly good served atop a plain vanilla scone. So far I haven't gotten past eating straight out of the jar. But next logical step would be inside a German pancake (French crêpe big fat cousin).
If you're at ALL interested in sampling any of these outrageously good jams come by the Toluca Lake Farmer's market on Sundays between 9:30am and 2:30pm. If you're not able to please visit my online store at www.hearthandlarder.com.