The garden is a source of nurture and nourishment for the soul at least and often the body as well… The best gardens give all year long. I love to give gifts from our garden, whenever possible. Here are some recent successes:
Summer in New England is so fleeting. I am always looking for new ways to preserve some of our harvest to savor as the thermometer drops with the leaves. This is a recipe given to me by an octogenarian friend of mine when I was lamenting the bounty of fruit in our garden and the shortage of time to preserve it.
You will need a large glass tight-fitting jar and some basic kitchen utensils.
Prepare peaches by removing the skins and pits. I find the easiest way of doing this is to half fill a large kettle with water and bring to a boil. Shut off the heat and add rinsed peaches to almost fill the kettle. After 2-3 minutes, gently stir with a large spoon to evenly expose the fruit to the hot water. (Use caution to avoid splashing yourself.) Gently drain the peaches into a large colander and rinse for a minute with cold water. Let them sit a few more minutes until they peaches are cool enough to hold comfortably. The skins should slip off easily when sliced once with a knife. Slice or mash the fruit pulp and remove the pit.
To each cup of peach pulp, you will need to layer:
1 cup of vodka
¾ cup of sugar
Seasonings of your choice to taste; I used lemon slices, cinnamon sticks and minced crystallized ginger.
Once all the ingredients are in the jar, seal it tight.
Every day for a week, gently swirl the contents without opening the jar.
Place the jar in a cool dark place for 2-5 months, leave it until ready to bottle.
Strain pulp through 8 layers of cheesecloth.
Pour syrupy liqueur into sterile bottles.
Label with contents and date.
Save the pulp, store in fridge for up to one month or in freezer up to one year.
So, along the lines of not wasting anything, and in the holiday spirit, I have created the recipe below. The beauty of this cake is that it is baked in an oven and not steamed. It is also made with dried fruit and not candied fruit and not overly sweet. It is moist and tasty.
Very Peachy Fruitcake
One Day Before:
In a large mixing bowl, to two cups of peach pulp, left from Peach Cordial above, or fresh mashed ripe peach pulp with one cup of vodka, brandy or rum, equaling 2 cups; add:
4 cups of dried fruit like cranberries, raisins, cherries, pineapple or other, 2 teaspoons fresh or dried orange rind. Mix Well and leave overnight.
Next Day Add to bowl with fruit and stir well together:
I cup melted butter or vegetable oil
I cup dark molasses
½ cup cider or orange juice
2 ½ cups brown sugar
2 tablespoons candied ginger (if not included in Peach Cordial pulp mix)
In a medium bowl, add and mix together:
2 ½ cups flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoon each cinnamon and nutmeg, ground
½ teaspoon cloves, ground
Slowly blend dry ingredients above, into large bowl of moist fruit mixture. When thoroughly mixed, add:
3 cups of whole or broken walnuts or pecans
When well blended, pour into two 9X5X3 inch loaf pans that have been greased and floured or lined with parchment paper.
Bake in a preheated 275 degree oven for 3 hours. Top of loaf will be springy when finger tested.
Allow to cool in pans before turning out. Cakes will be very moist.