Fresh nectarines lend their sweet tartness to this peppery preserve. Serve as a condiment over cream cheese with crackers for an appetizer or as an alluring sauce over grilled pork chops, chicken, or other meats.
3 pounds nectarines with skins, cleaned, pitted, and roughly sliced
4 cups sugar
4 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons lemon zest
½ cup finely minced shallot
1 cup finely minced sweet mini peppers
¼ cup finely minced jalapeños
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 ounces liquid pectin
5 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
Canning , or preserving food for shelf storage by sealing the food in cans or jars, became a method of food preservation after the age-old methods of fermentation, pickling, and even smoking. In fact, Napoleon offered a financial prize for any person who could conceive a way to preserve food for his troops. One man, Nicholas Appert, invented a method of placing food inside glass jars, corking them like wine bottles, and adding a protective wax seal to ensure that no air could get in or out. Soon he discovered that heat, not just removing air, further kept the food from spoiling. Not until the mid-1800s when Louis Pasteur explained how microbes caused food to spoil did anyone realize the genius of the method this French inventor, Nicholas Appert, had discovered that would literally change the way we deal with food even in the modern day. Appert won the contest in 1810; and, only two years later, the food industry began to “can” with the unbreakable tin cans.
Tips on Canning:
- To sterilize canning jars, place the jars on the hottest cycle of the dishwasher. Do not wash other dishes with the jars to insure that no debris will collect in inside of their interiors. Use a heat cycle to dry; do not use a towel—even a clean one—as they may introduce bacteria to the inside of the sterilized jar.
- Another method is to boil the open jars upright in the water bath with fitted rack or folded towel prior to filling the jars with food. Start by filling each jar ⅔ full of water and placing each jar in the pot. Boil for about 10 minutes. Use immediately while jars are hot. Again, do not towel dry the jars.
- One other method is to wash the jars thoroughly; and, while wet, place in the oven upright on a baking sheet lined with a kitchen towel. The oven temperature should be set at its lowest but warm enough to heat the jars, sterilizing them.
- In addition, make sure to use clean, new lids for each new processing. Flat canning lids should be placed in a small pot of hot water, which will soften the rubber and encourage them to seal better to the glass rims. Once the lid seals on a processed jar, the center will suck downward with a small popping sound.
- Remember that rings simply hold the lids in place. Do not rely on rings to seal lids. Moreover, rings placed too tightly on the lidded jars or lack of headspace can cause the lids not to seal and even buckle.
Recipe Created and Stylized by R. Shannon Mock
and Brontë E. Mock
©2018 Be the Beautiful Life All Rights Reserved
To Prepare the Nectarine Pepper Jam:
Place the sliced nectarines in a food processor or blender. Process to make 5½ cups of chunky purée. Place the purée in a large mixing bowl, and stir in the sugar and lemon juice. Permit the mixture to macerate.
In a large skillet over high heat, sauté the minced shallot, sweet mini peppers, and jalapeño until the onions and peppers begin to caramelize. Season the mixture with salt, ground ginger, and red pepper flakes. Reduce the heat to medium. Stir in the macerated nectarine purée, liquid pectin, and apple cider vinegar. Allow the combined ingredients to simmer until the mixture thickens. When thickened, remove the pan of jam from the heat and fold in the chopped cilantro. To serve, let mixture cool, then spoon over cream cheese and serve on toasts or hearth crackers.
To test for the right thickness of your preserves, try the following methods:
- The COLD PLATE TEST: Place a small plate in the freezer or in ice water for about 15 minutes. Take it out and place a spoonful of hot preserves (away from the heat source). Let it sit for almost a minute. If you move an object such as your finger through the jam on the plate, it should retain its position and even wrinkle slightly without running back together. If it doesn’t hold, then cook for about 5 more minutes and try again. This method is good for small batches of preserves.
- The TEMPERATURE TEST: You may also test the temperature of the jam with a thermometer. Water boils at 212°F at sea level to 1,000 feet. The preserve mixture should reach 8 degrees above boiling point. In other words, sea level to 1,000 feet should reach about 220°F to 221°F for the jam to be thick enough. Remember that boiling points change with altitude, so whatever your thermometer says the temperature of the boiling water is, cook the preserves 8 degrees higher. This method is great for large batches of preserves.
- The SPOON TEST: Dip a clean, cold, metal spoon into the mixture. Turn it to its side and raise it up about a foot above the pan. If the jam forms two droplets that flow together and create a sheet that hangs off the spoon’s edge, then it is done.
To Preserve by Chilling:
To preserve by chilling, place the jam in sterilized hinged jars with rubber rings. If kept sealed and chilled between uses, the jam will keep in this state for several months, retaining flavor, color, and quality texture.
To Preserve for Pantry Storage:
To preserve for longer, shelf storage, prepare some small 4-ounce or 8-ounce jars by washing and sterilizing them. While the jars are still hot, ladle hot jam inside, leaving ½-inch empty space at the top. Wipe the rim of the jars clean and place new lids on each jar, followed by screwing on a ring. If you do not have a specific canning water bath or steam, fit a stockpot or other large pot with a rack in the bottom or lined with a folded kitchen towel to keep the jars off the bottom of the pan. Fill the pot with water and bring to a boil. Place the hot jars inside the water, using canning jar lifting tongs. The water should displace and cover the tops of the jars. When the water returns to boiling, process the jars for 10 minutes. Place a folded-over bath towel on the counter. Using the tongs, transfer the finished jars of jam to the towel, leaving them upright and allowing them to cool and seal. Reprocess with new lids any unsealed jars. If kept out of direct light and kept in a cool environment, sealed jars of jam will retain flavor, color, and quality texture for up to 1 year.