Making Fruit NectarsAugust 24th, 2008
When I was a young girl, Apricot Nectar was widely available in large cans at most grocery stores. It was a treat for us to get one to enjoy. Last year I very carefully canned many batches of peaches, and we still have plenty on the shelf. I was looking for something different to do with some of this years peach harvest. As I looked though my collection of old cooking and canning books, I found making Pear, Peach, and Apricot Nectars was popular many years ago. They were all considered to be a delightful treat when served over ice in mid Summer. More than one of my books said the ice 'ripens' the flavor of the fruit. I am not exactly sure what that means. It certainly sounds grand, and we don't have to wait for hot weather.
I found two different types of recipes. Both called for removing the skins and seeds, cooking the fruit and pureeing it. We simply used a pan like food mill, and cooked peaches go through it very easily. You could use a hand cranked food grinder, an electric blender or food processor too. Usually sugar is added, and it is cooked more and hot packed into jars and processed in a water bath canner for long term storage. Some recipes call for only a small amount of water to be added while cooking the fruit, and yield a concentrated product you dilute before serving. Others called for similar amounts of water and fruit to be prepared together, so it is ready to drink when poured from the jar.
I had just been given a few cases of 12 ounce jelly jars, and decided to make the concentrate. It can also be used for glazing ham or pork, or as one of the ingredients in a fruit punch. Pineapple and citrus fruit are more common for those uses, but I will never be able to grow them in my climate. The peach Nectar makes an excellent breakfast drink. It is light and delicate in flavor. Apricot is often sweetened more with sugar, and used in desserts. Sometimes I add a bit of the juice from canned pears to poultry stuffing, replacing some of the fat or liquid. When you make your own, it can be just how you like it. According to one of my canning books which appears to be reliable, the sugar is not important in determining the processing time in the water bath canner. You can simply leave it out if you don't want it, or don't have the sugar to add.