The Wife subscribes to an organic food delivery service. I had misgivings about it — when she first suggested it, she said some words but what I heard her say was “I want to pay a lot more money for fruits and vegetables than the grocery store charges.” Eventually I gave in and indulged her, though.
While I’m still far from convinced that the label “organic” on the fruits and vegetables makes much difference, the stuff is fresh. We’re getting the produce at home a day or less after it’s been harvested — and that means that the farmer can let the fruit ripen to the point it’s ready to be eaten instead of pulling it out of the crop a week early so it can sit in a distribution center and then a truck on its way to the supermarket.
But we are also only getting the stuff that’s grown within about 100 miles of us, which means seasonal limitations govern what we get. For the past two months, we’ve been getting stonefruit every week. Peaches, apricots, plums, pluots, nectarines. Lots of nectarines. Just recently we got some white peaches which I have enjoyed, but the bumper crop since May seems to have been nectarines. My appetite for stonefruit is about one piece of fruit a week and I’m good. I prefer pomes, citrus, and melons; I’ll reach for one of those before I pick the pluot. And judging by her behavior, The Wife is about where I’m at.
So what’s been happening is that we’ve been accumulating all this stonefruit that we have to do something with. It’s been amassing for a month now and we both feared that it would rot in the refrigerator rather than being consumed. Given that the per-unit price of this stuff is more than double what you’d pay in the grocery store, I was damned if I was going to let that happen.
Last night, I broke down all the stonefruit we had — all the nectarines, peaches, plums, apricots, pluots, and whatever else was in the plastic bin. (We’d eaten most of the plums, or used them to infuse rum as a gift for my parents.) All of the fruit got sliced, diced, and eventually pureed in the food processor until it was a pulp. I kept three Saturn peaches to eat; everything else got pitted, sliced, and dropped in the Cuisinart.
I got about three quarts of stonefruit pulp that way, and mixed in about a quarter cup of orange clover honey and a tablespoon of lemon juice. I bagged the pulp in a ziploc baggie and froze it overnight. The next morning, I re-sealed the frozen compound in a food-quality vacuum bag. That sat in the sous vide at 190 degrees for nine hours today.
The sous vide did exactly what I’d hoped it would do — the heat induction separated the liquid from the fiber quite nicely. When I got home from work, the whole purply-pink mess went through the cone strainer. About half of the product was liquid, about half was fruit fiber.
I thought about preserving the fiberous part and trying to do something with it. There was still a fruity flavor to it, and maybe some egg and condensed milk would have made it into a tarte or a cobbler or something like that. I also thought that maybe it would be possible to infuse more liquor with it. But most of the skin got pulverized and the color went more into the nectar than the fiber. So I feared that the fiber would be chewy but bland, and if there was potential there, I let it go and threw out a quart and a half of stonefruit fiber.
Which left me with a quart and a half of the liquid, which I’m calling “stonefruit nectar.” I’m a little surprised at how pronounced the honey is in the mix; it adds weight and its own flavor to the liquid instead of just some extra sweetness. Refined sugar would not have added the character to the nectar that the honey does. It’s too sweet to drink straight. But it’s not too sweet to mix with alcohol.
As I see it, I can go one of three ways with it. One, a half-and-half mix of the nectar with prosecco and call it a bellini. Two, some O.J. and vodka, and call it a fuzzy navel. Or three, blend it with tequila, ice, and a squeeze of lime, and call it a stonefruit margarita.
Any other ideas?