Turn fruit into toppings, relish and desserts

My favourite time of year is when British Columbia fruit from cherries to apples arrives at the markets.

Fruit is an excellent source of dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals. It makes a quick and healthy snack, a variety of desserts or condiments with the main course.

Enjoy them fresh or preserve by canning, freezing or pickling.

Pickled Cherries With Five Spice:

Traditional Chinese five spice is a combination of star anise, Sichuan peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon and fennel. This works well with the sweetness of cherries.

Frozen cherries work as well as fresh. When working with acids such as vinegar, use non-reactive bowls and pots such as glass or stainless steel. Serve these cherries with pork, duck or a cheese and meat tray.

•    4 c. bing cherries 1 L
•    2 c. cider vinegar 50 mL
•    1 c. sugar 250 mL
•    2/3 c. water 150 mL
•    1 small cinnamon stick
•    2 tsp. Sichuan 10 mL
•    peppercorns, optional
•    5-6 whole cloves
•    3-4 whole star anise
•    2 tsp. fennel seeds 10 mL
•    4 pint jars 500 mL

1.    Stem and pit cherries and let sit overnight in the vinegar.

2.    Prepare jars by washing in clean soapy water. Place sealer lid in a pot of hot water to soften the rubber seal.

3.    In a saucepan, add sugar, water and spices. Drain the vinegar from the cherries and add to the saucepan. Set cherries aside.

4.    Heat vinegar mixture and simmer for 10 minutes. Let the liquid cool to room temperature, then pour over the cherries. Cover with a plate to submerge and put a towel or plastic wrap over the bowl. Let sit at room temperature for two to three days.

5.    Using a slotted spoon, remove the cherries first and rinse them in a colander to remove as much of the spices as possible, then strain the liquid through cheesecloth.

6.    Bring the liquid to a boil, fill jars with cherries, leaving room for liquid. Pour liquid over the cherries, leaving a headspace of 1/4 inch. Top with a new canning lid and finger tighten a ring.

7.    Process in a hot water bath for 20 minutes. Remove from water bath and cool overnight. Store in a cold room or pantry for a month before using. Makes about three pints (3–500 mL jars).

Grilled Peaches Wrapped In Serrano:

Grilled peaches wrapped in Serrano make a great appetizer.  |  Sarah Galvin photo

Grilled peaches wrapped in Serrano make a great appetizer. | Sarah Galvin photo

It’s salty and sweet with a tang.
•    1 peach
•    6 slices Serrano ham or prosciutto
•    mild tasting honey

Slice peach into six wedges. Wrap with one slice of ham. Grill over medium heat on all sides. Watch carefully to prevent burning. Remove from grill and drizzle with honey. Serve immediately.

Mission Inn’s Peach and Ginger Relish:

This is a classic recipe from Georgia, which produces about 130 million pounds of peaches each year.
•    2 medium red bell peppers
•    1 small onion, chopped
•    12 medium fresh peaches,
peeled and sliced
•    1/2 c. coarsely chopped 125 mL
•    fresh cilantro
•    1/2 c. firmly packed 125 mL
•    light brown sugar

•    1/2 c. apple cider vinegar 125 mL
•    2 tbsp. curry powder 30 mL
•    2 tbsp. grated fresh ginger 30 mL
•    2 tbsp. lemon juice 30 mL
•    1/2 tsp. ground red pepper 2 mL

1.    Cook red peppers and onion in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat, stirring constantly, until vegetables are tender. Add peaches and remaining ingredients, stirring well. Cook until mixture is thoroughly heated.
2.    Serve relish warm as a topping for grilled chicken. Makes 10 cups (2.5 L).
3.    They may be preserved by the hot water bath method and stored in a cool, dry place for a year, if using the directions as described in the pickled five spice cherries recipe.

Source: Southern Living Homestyle Cooking.

Spiced Apple Rings:

Bottled or filtered water is recommended by the home economist with BC Tree Fruits.
•    6 c. sugar 1.5 L
•    1 2/3 c. five percent 400 mL
•    white vinegar
•    3 c. water 750 mL
•    apples, 2-3 per jar
•    cinnamon sticks
•    selection of whole spices such as star anise, cloves, cardamom and allspice berries
•    lemon juice
•    wide mouth 500 mL
•    pint sized canning jars

1.    Cut a thin slice from top and bottom of each apple. Core the apples.
2.    Cut three to four horizontal slices from each apple and dip in lemon juice to prevent browning.
3.    Put spices of your choice in the bottom of the jar sparingly. Stack apples in the jar, allowing room for hot liquid to circulate. Insert the cinnamon stick through the centre of the apples.
4.    Pour hot liquid over and fill completely to the rim with no head space. Gently push a plastic knife down the sides of the jar to loosen any air bubbles. Clean jar rim, put hot sealer lid on and hand tighten ring.
5.    Place in canner, bring to full rolling boil for 15 minutes. Remove jars and cool completely. Store in a cool dry place for up to a year.

Source: B.C. Tree Fruits.

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