mossbetweentoes – adventures in homesteading, with brief forays into politics, geekery, parenting, crafting, and design

Time is of the Essence

Nectarines, frozen in time

I can't believe it's been almost two weeks since I posted last. And yet, I can believe it, since I've been so busy.

This was the first month after a three-month hiatus that I have had to layout the newsletter for The Mother Connection (the newsletter has a large combined "Summer" issue, before resuming a regular monthly schedule in September.) When I signed on as the Creative Director last year, I knew it was a two-year commitment, and I don't regret my decision to volunteer my time one bit. But, it is difficult to pull away from my other endeavors for 4-5 days each month, nose to the grindstone, and do nothing but just pound out the newsletter. In theory, I should be spending short amounts of time on the newsletter all month long, instead of pulling several back-to-back all-nighters right before the publishing deadline. But deadlines being what they are, I never get all the content I need until the very last minute. And because it's almost impossible to flow all the advertisements until all the copy is in place, it makes for some late nights where it's just me, the cat, and InDesign sitting on the couch in the dark.

Procrastination seems to be a universal human trait, and it is especially prevalent in a volunteer organization - where none of us seem to have enough time for everything. We are all moms, some of us have jobs outside the home, and many of us volunteer at other organizations or help at our children's schools. It's no one's fault that the copy comes in late, or articles never materialize, and this post isn't meant to be a "blame game" so much as an admission that Time Is Valuable. And try as we might, we just cannot add hours onto each day.

Each night after the kids go to bed, I do some calculations involving time. What can I get done tonight, in this block of time? There might be laundry, or cleaning, or thank-you cards to write. Yard work, gardening, or bills. But lately, one thing always seems to take precedence: canning. Produce will rot before your very eyes if not eaten or preserved. So while I can put off the folding, or the weeding, I usually can't ignore the pile of fruit sitting on the counter.

Last night was one of those nights. I volunteered at the co-op on Thursday, and thus ended up with a lot of extra nectarines. Galen will eat a nectarine, and so will I, but Hunter and Chris are not big fans of fruits with skins or pits. I knew that Galen and I wouldn't be able to eat them all in time, so I sought out a jam or chutney recipe for nectarines. I came across a few that called for brandy, and one delicious looking dessert (to be eaten fresh, not canned) that used Grand Marnier. This gave me some inspiration, and so I came up with a recipe for my nectarines using the proportions suggested on the back of my jar of Ball RealFruit No-Sugar Needed Pectin. (By the way, I have never tried Pomona's Universal Pectin, but probably should. Ball's no-sugar pectin has dextrose as a "filler" ingredient.) After I was done cooking it on the stove, I thought it reminded me of a white wine sangria - and so I labeled it as such: Nectarine Pink Sangria Preserves.

I share the recipe here with you, in case you want to transform your ticking clock of ripening fruit into Summer-In-A-Jar, to be enjoyed at a later time!

Nectarine Pink Sangria Preserves

  • 4 cups of peeled, pitted, and roughly chopped nectarines
  • 1/2 cup of Cranberry Peach juice (100% juice blend, not a cocktail. I used Whole Foods' 365 brand)
  • 1/2 cup of white wine (I used Sauvignon Blanc)
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 4.5 tablespoons Ball RealFruit Low or No-Sugar Needed Pectin
  • 1 cup of unrefined cane sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Grand Marnier liquor
  • 4 half-pint glass canning jars
  1. Combine fruit, cranberry juice, wine, and lemon juice in a large saucepan. Gradually stir in pectin. Bring mixture to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down. Test fruit to ensure it is soft (especially if you used some unripe fruit!)
  2. Add sugar. Return to a full boil and let boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly to avoid burning.
  3. Remove from heat, stir in the Grand Marnier.
  4. To can: Pack into hot, sterilized half-pint jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe rims of jars clean, apply a hot lid to jar, and screw on a band so it is "fingertip tight." Process for 10 minutes in a hot-water bath. Leave undisturbed on counter to cool. (My favorite: smile as you hear the "plink" of the buttons popping when the vacuum seal is created.)

A few afterthoughts about canning: did you know processing for longer than 10 minutes can break down the pectin and cause runny jam? Yeah, neither did I, until recently. Also, I find the proportions of fruit-to-pectin listed on the Ball pectin products to produce a fairly thick jam. Maybe it's just me. But if you prefer a thinner set, you might want to cut back the pectin a tad.

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