I can’t help it. I love to experiment with recipes. But when it comes to canning, experimentation is not always a good idea. For safety sake, my canning recipes are usually just very minimal tweaks to recipes that I trust. When my second batch of fruit from Washington State Stone Fruit arrived last week I made low sugar nectarine preserves from one of my pal Sean Timberlake’s recipes. Sean is the brains behind the do-it-yourself site Punk Domestics and a canning expert. I also made a combination peach and nectarine butter from another recipe I’d used in the past.
I’m always eager for opportunities to adapt recipes and put my own spin on them and when it came to these recipes I was inspired to use some samples of bitters and an amaro from Greenbar Distillery
. While it’s typical to use them in cocktails, I asked Sean about the safety of using these ingredients as well as a bit of spice in canning. Here’s what he said, “Adding a small amount of alcohol or spices should not significantly impact the total acidity in a preserve of high-pH fruit (such as peaches and cherries). If desired, add a little ReaLemon (5% acidity citric solution) to offset it.”
With Sean’s reassurance, I used a tablespoon of Grand Poppy amaro in the nectarine preserves, and just a teaspoon of saffron bitters in the fruit butter. You don’t really taste it in either, but it adds lovely aromatic properties. With the preserves recipe I didn’t use any liquid with the nectarines because some of the fruit was very juicy. If you’re wondering about Grand Poppy, it’s an amaro that’s bittersweet and includes California poppy, orange, lemon, grapefruit, bearberry, California bay leaf, pink peppercorn, dandelion, blessed thistle, burdock, rue, artichoke, gentian, geranium, cherry bark and a bit of cane sugar.
Makes 6 1/2 pint jars
10 cups of coarsely chopped and pitted peaches and nectarines, no need to peel
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 cups sugar
Place the peaches and nectarines in a large pot with the water, lemon zest and lemon juice. Cook it over medium heat until the fruit is very tender. Use a stick blender to puree the mixture. Add the sugar and simmer for 30 minutes or until thick enough to cling onto a spoon. Add the bitters and stir.
Lade into hot prepared jars (washed with hot soapy water). Leave 1/4 inch head space, wipe the rim of the jar if necessary. Apply the lid and twist on the band. Gently place in your canner or a large pot of water with a rack in it. The water should be 2 inches above the jars. Cover and boil for 10 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes then remove let cool.