Hands down, cherries are my favorite part of summer. I usually can’t bring myself to buy them out of season because they’re just never as good. And the second best thing to fresh cherries in season is preserved cherries for the other 11 months of the year! I had so many plans. Aside from the usual suspects like bourbon cherries, I was set to make maraschino cherries, savory preserves, syrups and more. You can imagine my disappointment when I arrived to the market and learned my plans to bring home buckets of cherries wasn’t happening this year.
Usually when I make a make a new recipe it takes me several days to publish it. There are of course exceptions. For holidays I like to get a recipe up a few days before the date, so people looking to round out their holiday menu can actually reference it, rather than pinning and forgetting about it for the following year. And then there are recipes that are so absolutely amazing that I can’t wait to share! This plum sauce is one of them.
I haven’t put up whole (well, quarter) peaches in some time. I started canning three years ago and was perhaps a bit overambitious. I put up salsa, dilly beans and jams with ease. How much different could whole fruit be? I was house sitting for my mom for a few weeks and toted my trusty canning pot along with me for the ride. Her kitchen is about 3 times the size of mine with a gorgeous stainless stove and ample marble counter tops. How could I not want to spend every free moment cooking there?
I came home with pounds and pounds of peaches from their local farm, ready to can. Though I wasn’t prepared for the fickleness of peaches. Not too hard, not too soft they had to be just right, blanched for the perfect seconds of time then canned with care. I had a few instances of jars not sealing but eventually canned 5-6 pints of fruit. Though when I later went to enjoy them I found the texture of the peaches reduced to mush, and the flavor far too sugary. After all the stress, I ended up with sub par fruit that got carelessly thrown into a cobbler. I’d almost rather go without peaches than suffer through to make something so flavorless. I was off peaches for good, or so I thought. It was my friend’s perfectly canned bourbon peaches that forced me to go another round with the fickle stone fruit.
I read somewhere that apricots are one of the only fruits that improve in flavor through cooking. I never want to believe such a thing could be true. All winter I indulge on dried apricots and apricot preserves, savoring each bite. When apricot season finally rolls around, after almost months of strawberries and a brief flirtation with cherries, I gladly shell out the $4 a pound for the petite fruit, rushing home like a child to enjoy my treasure.
The thing about apricots is they’re so small. Where as one peach may keep me satisfied, I need 3-4 apricots to do the same. I break open the first fruit, discard the pit and bite. Hmm, a little squishy–I must have picked an over ripe one. The next, firm but flavorless, another dud. After 3 or 4 apricots, I start to realize that cooking fact might have some weight to it. I’ve never enjoyed apricots fresh from the tree, but even the best looking specimens brought home from the greenmarkets never seem to achieve the flavor I expect compared to the jams, pies and crisps.