A miscommunication and two food shoppers meant a glut of doughnut peaches over filled our fruit bowls. I absolutely love eating these doughnut shaped peaches… to me they are little flattened pillows of sweetness with a wonderful peachy perfume. If you need a sweet fix… eat one of these doughnut peaches but you might find it is hard to stop at one. Less fuzzy skinned than other varieties of peach, the is flesh pale, sweet, juicy and low on acidity. Because of their shape, these peaches are also called Saturn or even UFO’s.
With a big bowl full of peaches sitting in front of me I thought to make a homely jar of chunky conserve, the urge to start skinning some peaches came upon me!
With a big bowlful of peaches sitting in front of me I decided to make a jar of chunky conserve. Making home-made conserve or jam is not something I do on a regular basis so using ordinary household utensils for the process suits fine. My mother made jam on many occasions with no fancy equipment and I have vivid memories of the big bubbling pot and the wonderful smell of jam filling our kitchen. The chilled saucers in the freezer ready and waiting for the wrinkle test. All the saved glass jars lined up on the kitchen table waiting to be filled with the hot sticky jam. Pressing circles of waxed paper over the surface (this is where I would help) of the jam, then covering the top of the jar with cellophane and securing with thick brown elastic bands. Once the jam had cooled a flick test with the fingers would be preformed on the cellophane covers, confirming the covers were taut and a proper seal had taken place.
Conserves contain bigger and more whole pieces of fruit than jams, both contain lots of sugar which acts as a preservative, enabling long storage of home-made conserves and jams without the need for refrigeration. As I am not interested in storing jam for months on end in a cupboard, making preserves with a high ratio of fruit and less sugar is my preference… hence this home-made conserve needs to be refrigerated and consumed within three to four weeks… no problem there! A delicious tasting peachy conserve, flavored with orange and a hint of clove… with a lovely spoonable consistency.
Doughnut Peach Conserve
- 500g doughnut peaches (choose firm fruit)
- zest one small orange, afterwards segment the orange taking care not to include any pith or membrane
- 225g granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice (preserves the colour of the fruit and increases the pectin content)
- 3 whole cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon of home-made vanilla extract, or store-bought
You will need: One 450ml jar with a lid or use a few smaller volume jars, which will need to be sterilized! Some waxed or silicon paper cut into circles to fit the appropriate jars!
Removing the skin from peaches: Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Also fill a large bowl with cold water and throw in some ice cubes. Cut a shallow cross (only into the skin) on the base of each peach with a sharp knife. Place the peaches into the boiling water for about 20 seconds. With the help of a slotted spoon, transfer the peaches quickly into the cold water bath (stops the peaches from cooking) for about 30 seconds. Remove and skin the peaches. Unfortunately all the lovely colour disappears with the skins and the peaches will look somewhat insipid!
This next step is completely optional but wanting to put a bit of blush back into the conserve I gathered the skins of the peaches and gave them a good squeeze over a bowl, collecting about a tablespoon and a half of pinkish coloured liquid (with a bit of flavour) which I incorporate when making the conserve!
How to make:
Cut each peach into quarters and discard the stone. Cut the orange segments into small pieces.
Add the peaches, juice from the skins (if using) orange zest, orange segments, sugar, lemon juice and cloves into a wide low sided thick-bottomed stainless steel saucepan. Gently mix everything together and let the contents stand undisturbed for about 15 minutes, this process helps extract the juice and also firms up the pieces of fruit enabling chunks of fruit to remain whole in the cooked conserve.
Heat the contents of the saucepan gently while stirring with a wooden spoon until the sugar has completely dissolved. Raise the heat and cook steadily (not a rolling boil) until the fruit is soft and setting point (see note below) has been reached. Take care that the jam does not catch on the bottom of the saucepan and burn! This will take around 20 minutes. Remove from heat and allow the conserve to cool for about 10 minutes, stir in the vanilla extract, remove and discard the cloves.
Spoon the peach conserve into a hot sterilized jar. Press a circle of waxed or silicon paper onto the surface of the conserve and cover with lids. Store the completely cooled jar in the refrigerator.
How to know when your preserve has reached setting point: Usually I follow the wrinkle test when making a conserve or jam. Spoon a teaspoon of the boiling conserve onto one of the cold saucers from the freezer, let sit for about a minute until cold, then push with your finger… if the preserve wrinkles it has reached setting point, if not, boil for a couple of minutes and test again.
Wonderful delicious ways to use and enjoy Doughnut Peach Conserve:
- Mix a spoonful of peach conserve thorough a pot of home-made natural yogurt or store-bought, makes a delicious real fruit flavoured yogurt.
- Place a small chunk of creamy blue cheese or soft goats cheese on a cracker and top with a little blob of peach conserve… I love this combination!
- Serve the peach conserve as an accompaniment to pan cooked duck breast for a quick fruit sauce.
- For a quick fruit topping, spoon some peach conserve over plain cheese cake or some vanilla ice cream.
- Peach conserve served with warmed croissants, scones, a nice chunk of home-made brown bread or french toast… simple but all delicious!
- Replace the blackcurrant jam with peach conserve in this Welsh Cheese Cakes recipe.