from one generation to the next
As summer develops and the price of stone fruit drops, I like to poach yellow fleshed peaches and nectarines. When I was a child Mum “stewed” summer fruit to serve for dessert. Poaching the fruit means it retains it’s shape and texture, enhancing both the visual appeal and taste.
For the first batch of the season, I make a pot of syrup with perfumed aromatics in which to poach the fruit. When the fruit is cooked, I lift it out with a slotted spoon, then the syrup becomes a flavourful master poaching liquid for all subsequent batches of fruit I cook over summer and autumn, the intensity of flavour increasing with each batch. I add small leftover amounts of wine or champagne to the syrup and sometimes a little extra water or sugar are needed so there is sufficient volume to cover the fruit.
There is a school of thought that says the fruit should be blanched and peeled before poaching but I find that the skins slip off easily after the fruit has cooled sufficiently to handle.
My grand daughters love icy poles made with the intensely fruity end of season poaching syrup.
8 firm large yellow
1 litre water
OR 500mls water + 500mls white wine
2 cups sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 Strip of lemon zest
1 strip of orange juice
In a large shallow pan, bring the sugar and water to the boil, stirring continuously until the sugar has dissolved. Split the vanilla beans lengthwise then add to the syrup along with the cinnamon stick and zest. Reduce the heat and simmer for 1/2 hour.
Run a sharp knife around each piece of fruit in the natural crease. Separate the halves, by twisting the cheeks of the fruit in opposite directions. Use a teaspoon to loosen the pips, then add them to the syrup. Add the fruit to the syrup in a single layer, reduce the heat to the lowest setting and put a simmer mat under the pan. Poach the fruit on a very low simmer for about 1/2 hour or until soft when pierced with a toothpick. Using a slotted spoon, lift the fruit from the syrup and allow to cool. Slip the skins off the fruit halves. Strain the syrup, pour a little over the fruit, then return the vanilla bean and cinnamon stick to the syrup. Store in a covered container in the fridge.
The poached fruit is delicious for breakfast served with a good dollop of vanilla yoghurt.