Nectarine Ginger Pie Filling

It’s almost October: the leaves are turning, candy corns are crowding the store shelves and pumpkin spiced lattes are all over the Internets. So why am I talking about nectarines? Peaches and nectarines are classically August: shouldn’t I be telling you about the butternut squash risotto I made last week? (Oh, and it was good.) But September is wacky that way: it truly straddles two seasons. You look around the farmer’s market and are spoiled for choice: tomatoes, eggplant and even zucchini snuggle up next to pumpkins, parsnips and leeks; peaches, nectarines and plums are there, numbers dwindling, but holding their own against the first blush of pears and apples. Irene finished peach & nectarine season for a lot of local farmers, but I saw a few stragglers at Saturday’s market, and I’m hoping to find one last batch this Wednesday, at the Danbury Fair market, to pop in the dehydrator.

These little beauties have been sitting in my fridge, macerating for a week now, while I recovered from Preservapalooza Weekend ’11. I finally got them in jars yesterday, and for all the waiting, the final preserve came together quickly & easily. Tai pronounced the flavor “outstanding” over ice cream: I think it will only continue to mellow & blend while sitting on the shelf. And while I envision a glorious, we’re-so-sick-of-apples middle of winter nectarine pie, I can think of some lovely savory uses as well, over pork or chicken, in an Asian-flavored stir fry or an Indian curry. (I should really make another batch!)

Typically, a 9-inch pie will take about a quart of filling, but I like to can pie filling in pint jars: it gives me more flexibility, should I just want to make a small tart for the two of us, or use it in a crumble or over sponge cake. I also find that I have fewer problems with siphoning in the smaller jars: pie filling is thick & viscous and will expand in the canner. Make sure that you are leaving a generous 1 inch of headspace for a successful seal. While the inspiration recipe was not designed for canning, nectarines are safely acidic, and with the addition of lemon juice, I’m confident that the relatively small amount of ginger in the recipe is well within the safe limits of acidity: but of course, you should always trust your own judgement.

Think about rounding up some of the last of the season’s nectarines this week: I do believe that this one is a winner.

Inspired by Crustless Peach-Ginger Pie in The Pie and Pastry Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum

————————————————————

Nectarine Ginger Pie Filling

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 and 1/4 lbs nectarines (about 2 quarts)
  • 1 cup sugar + 2 tbsp sugar, divided (organic evaporated cane juice)
  • zest & juice of 1 lemon
  • 5 tsp fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 2 cinnamon sticks (4 inches each)
  • 2 tbsp ClearJel or other canning-safe food starch

METHODS

  1. In a large bowl, combine 1 cup sugar, cinnamon sticks, lemon zest & juice, and minced ginger. Toss to mix. Peel, pit and slice nectarines into 1/4-inch slices (about 16 slices per medium nectarine). Add to bowl, tossing with sugar/lemon mixture as you go, to prevent browning. Make sure fruit and cinnamon sticks are buried beneath juices (to prevent browning), then allow to macerate at room temperature for at least 2 hours, or refrigerated overnight (or several nights, if need be).
  2. Prepare canner, jars and lids.
  3. Strain nectarine juice into a large, heavy-bottomed preserving pot. Retrieve cinnamon sticks and add to the juice: set fruit aside. Bring juices to a boil over medium heat, then reduce heat and boil gently for about 5 minutes, until juice is slightly thickened. Remove and discard cinnamon sticks.
  4. In a small bowl, mix together ClearJel and 2 tbsp sugar: whisk into boiling juice, stirring constantly until ClearJel disappears and juice thickens, about 1 – 2 minutes. Add reserved fruit. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low, and simmer for about 5 minutes. Ladle hot pie filling into hot jars, leaving a full 1-inch of headspace. Bubble jars carefully, adjust headspace, wipe rims, affix lids, and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

Yields just under 5 pints.

OPTIONS

  1. You can omit the ClearJel and simply add cornstarch at the time of baking the pie; however, I feel that starch incorporates better into syrup alone while it is hot, so in this case, ClearJel works well. Do not use cornstarch in canning, as it cannot be reheated.
  2. This pie filling is ready to bake: simply empty jar into a pie shell and bake at 375 degrees F until bubbling thickly. For a tart, pre-bake the tart shell, cover the edges, then add the fruit and bake until bubbling. Two pints perfectly fills an 11-inch tart pan.
  3. After one year of shelf storage, the bright color of the canned pie filling had faded considerably, likely due to the low amount of sugar. Store protected from light, and consider adding more sugar if protecting the color is important to you (I think the that flavor of the preserve is perfect with this amount of sugar, however). The baked tart pictured below used jars that sat on the shelf for one year.

STORE

Canned, store in a cool, dark spot for up to 1 year.

SEASON

Summer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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13 comments

  1. THIS sounds very Yummy… we’ve added a Nectarine Tree to our Home Orchard and I discovered how to grow a Ginger Root… so will definitely give this a try some year, soon I hope! If I don’t receive a large enough harvest next season, will try this recipe with our Peaches. Today I am making/canning applesauce for my Grandchildren. Last year at this time I was making/canning Pear Honey made with fresh Ginger and fresh Pineapple and brown sugar. Yum! Some of those I gave it to as Presents asked if I had any extra I could share… so I am not the only one who agrees on the taste.

    Thanks so much for all of the time you spend sharing of your wealth of knowledge. You definitely have a way with cooking and words… such a pleasure to read what you say… it’s like I am there with you! *warm hug

  2. Nectarines are done here. I even went to a market 50 miles south of me this past weekend hoping for a few nectarines and/or peaches and they are done. But I will mark this to make next year.

    And thank you for saying it is easier and more efficient to put up pie filling in pint jars. I tend to use my quart jars for storage of things like beans and grains. Now to find more apples so I can make apple pie filling as well as jam.. Living by myself, pints are the way to go!

  3. Cyntha

    I wish I had read this last Friday. I followed a recipe for apple pie filling that used cornstarch for the thickening agent before canning 5 quarts of organic granny smith apples! What happens to the corn starch when it’s reheated as in a baking pie?

    • I have not done it personally, but have heard that it clumps and separates upon the 2nd heating: sometimes this happens in the jar in the water-bath (depending on how hot the filling was when it went into the jars) and sometimes in the pie itself. I believe you can alleviate this problem somewhat by heating the pie filling to a simmer in a saucepan before using to fill a pie crust, and stirring to smooth out any clumps in the sauce.

      How about you, readers? Anyone have experience using cornstarch in canned pie filling? Any tips for Cyntha?

      • Corn starch is no longer recommended for canning. It will separate and not be pretty. Plus the mouth feel is not very good.

        I would heat the filling prior to using it to make sure it all blends back together. And order some Clear Jel to use next time.

  4. Cynthia

    Thanks! I’ll try that before making my apple pie for in-laws visiting from AZ on Friday. I cannot wait to try the nectarine ginger pie filling. We still have nectarines in TX.

  5. I am a clear gel user myself and only purchase through King Arthur, I tried a cheaper variety thru Amazon and was really disappointed in the results. I never use corn starch in any of my canned products as the texture does not hold. This recipe looks fantastic! Peaches are still coming in here, I do a filling with Ginger and just a small bit of Cardamon which was insprired with Mrs. Wheelbarrow. I love the look of your recipe :) Photos gorgeous as usual!

    • Wendy,

      That’s good to know: thanks. I’ve so far only bought ClearJel once (I think it was Barry Farm, through Amazon) as I don’t use it very often, but good to know that KA carries it for the future. FWIW I found that I had to cut WAY down on the amounts listed in any Ball recipe as the resulting sauce was like paste and I almost always had siphoning probllems.

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