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Sustainable Life: Stone fruit harvest recipes

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The sweet, aromatic flesh of apricots, plums, nectarines and peaches are a feast for the senses.

Summer’s the time for this gorgeous fruit to weigh down the branches of backyard trees. Time for harvest.

A plentiful stone fruit harvest will produce much, much more than one household can eat. It will also produce some fruit with small blemishes. Here are five ideas for making the most of your bounty.

Eat

The very best of your harvest is for eating fresh. Pick stone fruit a few days before it’s ripe. Stone fruit develop their flavours beautifully in a fruit bowl, reducing the likelihood that cockatoos get more than their fair share.

Poach

Fruit that’s fallen on the ground or is blemished are perfect for poaching. Simply cut out the imperfections, while preparing your fruit to be poached. If you have more than one type of stone fruit that’s ready for harvest, put them all in together.

Step 1. Prepare your fruit by washing them, removing blemishes and evenly slicing them. No need to peel stone fruit. Weigh your sliced fruit, so you know how much sugar to add in the next step.

Step 2. Place your sliced fruit in a heavy-based. Add 2-3 tablespoons of brown sugar for every 500g of sliced fruit. Add spices to your personal taste. You might add a single cinnamon quill, fresh nutmeg, cloves, ground cardamon or a combination of spices. Do not add water.

Step 3. Gently bring your fruit, sugar and spices mix to a simmer. Stir your fruit as the mixture heats to prevent it sticking to the saucepan and burning. The fruit will have enough moisture in it to create its own delicious poaching liquid. Poach for 10 – 15 min, until the fruit is cooked and the flavours have infused.

Step 4. Serve your poached stone fruit with yoghurt and toasted nuts. You can also freeze poached fruit, a great way to keep the taste of summer alive when the weather gets cooler.

Jam

All stone fruit can be made into jam. This recipe is for apricot jam—our favourite!

You can use apricots from your home tree, including those that are slightly blemished or fallen on the ground.

Step 1. Prepare your fruit by washing them, removing blemishes and chopping them into 2 x 2cm chunks. Removing all of the dirt is important as little bits of dirt will make your jam foam. No need to peel stone fruit. Weigh your chopped apricots. A good amount for a batch of jam is between 0.5 and 1.5 kg. Add your chopped apricots to a large, heavy-based saucepan.

Step 2. Weigh your white sugar. You’ll need equal an weight of sugar and chopped apricots. Place the white sugar in the saucepan with the apricots.

Step 3. Turn up the heat. Gently stirring the sugar through the apricots pieces, so that you the apricots are macerated. This prevents the sugar and apricots burning. Bring the mixture to the boil. Hold on a rolling boil for 20 -30 minutes, enough to break the shapes in the apricot pieces, so they’re nice and mushy to spread on your toast.

Step 4. Take your apricots off the heat and skim off any white foam. Break up any large pieces with a potato masher. For a thick jam, add jamsetta (one packet for 1.5kg of fruit) and bring your jam gently back to the boil. If you don’t stir as you bring your jam back to the boil, it will sticks slightly to the bottom of your saucepan and caramelise, creating a lovely deep golden colour. Check that your jam has set by removing a little on a spoon, and letting it cool. It should cool to a gluggy consistency.

Step 5. Prepare your jam jars by sterilising them in the microwave. Place a few centimetres of water in the bottom of each jar and gently place the lid onto of each jar, leaving a little gap for steam to escape. Microwave on high for 5 minutes, so that the water boils and the steam sterilises your jars. Bottle your jam in sterilised jars.

Plum Sauce

Plums make an amazing sauce, just perfect for many Asian dishes. Homemade plum sauce is the perfect accompaniment to Vietnamese rice paper rolls or a vegetable stir fry.

Step 1. Wash, remove the stones and roughly chop your plums. Select plums that are overripe for maximum sweetness and aroma. Weigh your chopped plums. You’re aiming for 1.5 kg of chopped fruit.

Step 2. Place your chopped fruit in a heavy-based saucepan. Add the other sauce ingredients: 1.5 cups of white vinegar, 2 cups of white sugar, 1.5 tsp of salt and 1.5 tsp of ground Chinese five spice, a small red onion (finely chopped) and 1 tbsp of finely diced fresh ginger.

Chinese five-spice is the star ingredient. It contains the five Chinese ‘elements’ of fire, water, wood, earth and metal and is claimed to restore balance our bodies. Bring all of your ingredients to a gentle boil. Boil for about 30 minutes, or until the plums have fallen apart.

Step 3. Take your plum mixture off the boil and whiz it with a stick blender.

Step 4. Prepare your jars by sterilising them in the microwave. Place a few centimetres of water in the bottom of each jar and gently place the lid onto of each jar, leaving a little gap for steam to escape.  Microwave on high for 5 min, so that the water boils and the steam sterilises your jars. Bottle your sauce in sterilised jars. Gift to neighbours and store in the fridge.

Dry

The hot summer sun has been used to dry fruit for more than a thousand years. The timing is perfect. Most fruit ripens in summer, when the sun is at its hottest. To dry fruit in the sun requires a little patience and supervision. You can also dry fruit on a tray with baking paper in an oven (on low) or in a purpose-built dryer.

Step 1. Wash, chop your fruit in half and remove stones. Slice your fruit so that each piece has an even thickness.

Step 2. Place your fruit on a drying rack in a purpose-built dryer and run the dryer on high, overnight. Test your fruit in the morning. If it’s not yet dry enough for your liking, keep the dryer running.

If you want to store your fruit for more than a few days, you’ll need to reduce the moisture content to be roughly consistent with dried fruit that you purchase. Consume homemade dried fruit within a month—delicious!

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