We had quite the unexpected (but very welcome!) glut of nectarines this year. As our orchard is so young I didn't hold much hope for more than a handful of fruit, but boy did those little trees outdo themselves!
We have four nectarine trees in the orchard - one 'Early Rivers', two 'Goldmine' and one that I obviously didn't write down the varietal name of way back when we planted them five years ago. We managed to harvest the fruit from all but one tree before the pesky lorikeets came and stripped it bare (under full tree netting and all!).
Confronted with bucket loads of fruit, I spent an evening pouring over Sally Wise's wonderful book 'A Year on the Farm'. Sally is the guru of how best to preserve high summer fruit to enjoy all through the depths of winter.
The recipes that kept jumping out at me were Sally's cordials and fizzy drinks. There wasn't a specific recipe for nectarines, but the general process for cordial seemed to be fairly consistent: fruit, sugar, water, tartaric acid and citric acid. Having neither tartaric or citric acid in my pantry, I did a bit of internet searching and came up with my own version... and now we have a few beautiful big bottles of nectarine cordial in the cupboard, to drink with sparkling water on a hot afternoon, mix with champagne as a bellini alternative, or perhaps mix with a sneaky tipple of vodka and soda water.
The rest of the excess fruit I chopped up to freeze. On Sally's recommendation, the fruit was first mixed with a bit of ascorbic acid, which is pure vitamin c powder (available from chemists), used to help preserve fruit when freezing. The frozen fruit will be perfect to add to muffins and other baked treats all through winter.
So, should you wish to make your own...
Ingredients: 1kg nectarines // 250g caster sugar // juice of 1 lemon // 750ml water
Method: Halve and destone the nectarines and then blitz them in a blender or food processor. Put the resulting nectarine slush into a big pot and add the sugar, lemon juice and water. Bring to a rolling boil and then boil the mixture for a full 2 minutes. Strain the liquid through a fine metal sieve and then pour into sterilised bottles. Process the bottles using your preferred method - I use a basic waterbath method (the largest pot we own, filled with water - place the bottles into the pot - bring water to the boil and then keep boiling for 10 minutes for this cordial). Please keep in mind the risk of botulism - although the sugar helps lower the risk, you should always be really careful when preserving foods. Pour over ice, add something sparkling, enjoy!
Thank you for hand modelling husband!