I spend most of my free time nose-deep in recipes or elbow-deep in the kitchen. That’s my happy place. My home.
So when the peaches and plums at school started to ripen too fast for consumption, I began eye-ing them for possible recipes, envisioning sugar plum tarts and peach hand pies (literally visions of sugar plums dancing in my head). When Friday came, I happily volunteered to take the fruit home, promising to transform it and bring back some of the treasures I would make to share with my co-workers.
I brought home about 5 pounds each of peaches and plums (not all of them pictures), beautiful (but a little beat up) specimens with soft flesh and bright summer hues and began scrolling through my mental list of recipes, trying to decide what to make. Though I love desserts, I often have too many around to tempt me, thanks to my love for baking, so I tried to find recipes that would use the fruit more creatively. I decided to transform the plums into jam (apparently I wasn’t the only one who had that idea, gosh darn it). I would make the peaches into fruit leather( using a recipe from Weelicious that I’d been dying to try) as well as peach shortbread bars (I know, I know – totally a dessert, but I was taking them to work).
Friday – I made the fruit leather. To make it, you start by pitting and halving your peaches. You puree them skins and all in a blender with a little honey to sweeten it up, spread it out on a baking sheet and you wait for your oven to basically dehydrate the fruit.
The trickiest part I found was spreading the puree to the right thickness and deciding when the fruit leather was done. My results: slightly too thin and too crunchy. More like dried fruit chips than leather, though I did manage one fruit “roll-up”!
Sunday I made jam, after doing a little bit of research on the process and equipment. The jam ended up being quite a project. You wash the jars well, you simmer the fruit (oooo the colors and smells!), you pour it through a food mill (optional) and you carefully pour, wipe, and seal the jars. The end result was delicious (as said by my toughest critic who #1 doesn’t even like plums and #2 actually put it on his peanut butter toast!). I followed this recipe and added a teaspoon of ground ginger and reduced the sugar slightly.
Look at how dark a red it got from the beautiful skins!
The food mill is a perfect tool for churning out the skins, though they add a nice texture. Reminds me of cranberry sauce.
The jars I bought make a perfect gift size and worked as a good way to give back some of the plums to my co-workers.
Finally, I made the peach shortbread bars, which I finished while the jam set. They were delicious, though not quite peachy enough for my taste. Next time – more peaches. The browned butter really added a nice nuttiness, though it didn’t come through super strongly in my opinion. Nonetheless, they were a hit at school and now I can check them off of my to-bake list.
After making peach butter (which by the way is almost gone!), peach cobbler, plum jam, and peach shortbread bars, I think I’ve almost exhausted my bout of summer fruit experiments. However if you happen to have a big bag of very ripe fruit going begging, please send it my way. There are always a million more recipes to make.