Small Batch Preserves…with benefits!
Last year I got to review the Williams and Sonoma book The Art of Preserving. This book has some AMAZING recipes, a good number of them involving fruit jams or preserves infused with some herb or another. Last year’s Plum Lavender jam was to die for.
So when nectarines went on sale at the local produce market, I bought a couple pounds and made Nectarine-Basil Preserves.
I know. Basil? With nectarines? If I hadn’t already tried the Lavender one, I don’t know if I would have dared, but it was a fairly small batch, so I figured what the heck.
Oh. My. God. It’s amazing.
What’s especially cool–the nice thing about preserves is that you don’t have to worry about jell points and pectin and stuff; you just let it macerate in sugar overnight, drain off the syrup and bring it to a boil, add the fruit and let it simmer for ten minutes or so, pack your jars with the cooked fruit and then drizzle the syrup in to fill.
The thing is, you end up with this crazy amount of syrup left over. Divinely flavored, basil-infused-nectarine syrup.
It so happens that this syrup, when chilled and mixed with seltzer water (or champagne?) makes a most lovely sweet refreshing summer beverage.
So if you are intimidated by the whole canning thing (which really isn’t that scary; try a small batch with sale fruit, and you don’t have much to lose! Or just jar the stuff in an ordinary way and freeze or refrigerate it.)–try making preserves. Way easier. Fewer ingredients. Not much measuring to worry about. I have a lot of links here, or check out that Williams Sonoma book for yourself...
And then make lovely drinks out of the syrup.