Ron Cornelson is a neighbor of Art Lang of Honey Crisp Farms in Reedley, California. They both grow the highly sought-after Snow Queen nectarines. These white-fleshed nectarines are so packed with sugars that the skin literally bursts open in cracks. Look for fruit with the cracks to get the sweetest flavors.
Laura Avery also chats with Russ Parsons of the LA Times and author of How to Pick a Peach: The Search for Flavor from Farm to Table. A compulsive jam maker, he has a technique for making fresh jam in small batches that you simply refrigerate. You can also can these, but by making jams in small 2-cup batches you can save the fresh fruit flavor. Simply combine 2 cups of fresh fruit and 3/4 cup sugar. Let the mixture sit overnight in the refrigerator. The next day, put two cups of the fruit into a high-walled saute pan over high heat, stirring occasionally. After 10 minutes the fruit will thickening. Remove from heat and let it cool. When completely cooled, store in a Ziploc or plastic container and eat fresh. Russ shares the following recipe.
By preparing preserves in small batches, the jam will cook quickly enough that the fruit retains its fresh taste. This recipe works best with weights. (How would you know if you were a few strawberries short of a pint?) Use equal amounts of fruit and sugar. We've listed approximate volume measures if you don't have a scale. Two pints of strawberries weigh about two pounds.
- 2 lbs strawberries, washed and hulled and cut into bite-size pieces (about 8 cups)
- 2 lbs sugar (about 4 cups)
- Juice of 1 lemon or orange
- Combine the strawberries and sugar in a large pot and heat slowly until the juices are clear, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice, then cover loosely and let stand for a couple of hours or overnight.
- The next day, get everything ready for canning: Bring a large pot of water to a boil and sterilize 5 sets of jars and lids, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, but leave the jars and lids in the hot water until you're ready to use them.
- Heat 2 cups of the strawberries and juice in a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When the strawberries start to simmer, cook, stirring often, until the preserves test done, 3 to 5 minutes.
- Ladle the jam into the sterilized jars, filling to within 1/4 inch of the rim. Cover with the lid and fasten the ring tight. Set aside and repeat with the remaining strawberries and juice.
- To complete the seal, bring the large pot of water back to a boil, place the covered jars in a pasta insert and place them in the pot. Make sure the boiling water covers the jars. Cook 5 minutes.
- Remove the jars from the pan and set aside to cool. After 30 minutes, check the lids to make sure they've sealed tightly. Gently press down in the center of the lid; if it does not spring back, you have a tight seal.
- Repeat the canning process with any jars that have not sealed tightly.
Music break: Guitar Tango by The Shadows