Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Peach Lavender Preserve

I have done a decent amount of compotes, jellies and pickles in the kitchen, but never really taken a stab at preserving in mason jars the old fashion way. I've either made just enough to last in a deli container or been lucky enough to have a vac pac machine. Come to think about it, this is the first time i've really used pectin. I've always been used to using agar agar or gelatin to set things. My minds been going in a million different directions these days, finishing up my last month at my current restaurant and preparing for this new venture its been hard to focus on any one thing. While walking through kensington this weekend i saw some beautiful ontario peaches. Not as nice as the ones from the farmers market earlier in the week, but nice enough to try my hand in preserving. So i picked up a box and brought in home. 
As I perused my Small Batch Preserving book i came across an interesting pairing of peach and lavender. Then i dug deeper into the world of preserving and read up on the process, the tools, the ingredient (pectin) all so new to me. Seemed easy enough. So i made several trips to the hardware store and local dollerama, determined to preserve those peaches that night. Picked up a box of certa pectin and i was ready to commence. What i thought was to be an easy process wasn't as so. First off the recipe used much more sugar then i felt comfortable using. I thought to myself i was trying to preserve the flavor of peaches for another season, not to taste sugar. I know sugar acts as a preservative, but in my mind it was way to much. So i diced up the peaches, cooked it out for a few minutes with the sugar, lemon juice, and infused lavender "stock" and added my pouch of certa. Mind you the recipes always ask for a package of powder or liquid pectin, but fail to state what brand or in what quantity. After completing the process, i filled up my mason jars, submerged then under boiling water for 10 minutes and took them off to cool for 24 hours unfortunately they didn't gel up like i would have wanted. Right away i was turned off from certa. So i contacted a pastry chef and found a good quality french powdered pectin, unfortunately they informed me that preserving was a touch and go process and there was a ton of variables (pectin contact of fruit, ripeness, etc... ), but i was determined to write my first recipe and acheive a useable product. I also think it will be easier if i pick one type of pectin and stick to it. So i diced the peaches, added the sugar, lemon juice, and lavender stock, again. Weighed out my pectin at one gram per 100 grams of pulp(in this case the weight of peaches) added a touch of sugar to help minimize the clumping as i diluted the pectin in enough water (about a 1/2 cup) . It gelled up right away and had clumps. i took a hand blender and smoothed it out. I then added this to the peach mixture and boiled it out for several minutes. And as quickly as it started, it was finished. I did three batches, same recipe. the first one i kept the peaches in there diced state, another i strained a bit of the liquid off and blended the peaches smooth, and the third one i really brought down and caramelized. The caramelized batch was too stiff. My guess is i didn't change the amount of pectin to take into account the extra water loss. I just thinned it out with some water till it reached a nice consistency and bottled it. 
Attempt #2 a success!

Peach Lavender Jam 
900 gr small diced peaches (approx 4 cups)
730 gr white sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice
9 gr powdered pectin 
2 tbsp dried lavender 
1/2 cup boiling water
extra water for diluting the pectin. about 1/2 cup

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