Combine tasty stone fruits and a bit of unusual spice for a mixed fruit treat.
I was one of those kids who loved canned fruit cocktail. It seemed pretty exotic to those of us who lived in cold, remote places back in the ’60s. It also helped that as a kid I didn’t have much to compare it to. So think of this as a grown-up, more worldly version.
Canning mixed fruit is easy and makes a great beginner project. It provides you with a taste of summer all year, and can easily be adapted to what you have on hand. This time I had beautiful, BIG, nectarines – courtesy of the Washington Fruit Commission for their Canbassador program.
What is a Canbassador?
As a Canbassador my mission is to make all kinds of wonderful preserved stone fruit items and then write about them. Many people aren’t aware that Washington grows large amounts of not just apples, but pears, berries, and stone fruits too.
You can find out lots more about our wonderful Washington stone fruits over at the SweetPreservation site. There are instructions for canning and freezing fruit, all kinds of ideas for throwing a “preservation party,” recipes, tips for choosing the best fruit at the grocery store, and professionally designed labels to download. You can even get a copy of the “Of course I canned” badge for your own blog.
Washington Stone Fruits
I usually make a few jars of mixed fruit at least once during the summer. For this batch I used all Washington stone fruits; nectarines, plums, cherries, and apricots. The best thing? None of the fruits need to be peeled first, making this a quick project. Of course you could use peaches, mango, blueberries, pears, pineapple, etc. The basic recipe is the same, no matter what the fruit.
Be sure to pit the cherries. It may be extra work, but no one wants to bite into a cherry pit. And don’t be tempted to leave the cherries out. It adds beautiful color plus flavor.
Use plums, nectarines, and apricots that are ripe, but not very soft. We want them to stay together during the processing!
What is Mace?
You certainly can make a mouth-watering mixed fruit concoction without added spice, but adding just a bit of spice enhances the fruit flavor.
Mace is an unusual spice. It comes from the lacy, outer coating of the nutmeg seed. The flavors are quite different though. I don’t care for nutmeg at all, but love mace. Mace is used in both sweet and savory dishes and may be that unusual flavor you can’t place in your favorite sausage. Here we add just a tiny bit. Of course, you could substitute ground ginger or cinnamon instead.
And no, the spice mace has nothing to do with the mace you spray at attacking animals!
- 12 cups chopped mixed fruit (I used nectarines, cherries, plums, and apricots)
- 2 ¼ cups sugar
- 5 ¼ cups water
- ½ tsp ground mace
- In a large pot, combine sugar, water, and mace. Bring to a boil, stirring until well combined.
- Reduce heat to a simmer.
- Drain fruit and add ½ of it to syrup mixture. Continue simmering until fruit is heated through.
- Spoon fruit into clean pint jars.
- Fill each jar with the hot syrup leaving ½ inch head space.
- Repeat with remaining fruit.
- Remove the bubbles (I use a chop stick but there is an actual tool for this process).
- Wipe the tops of the jars with a damp paper towel, and cover with two-piece caps. Process in a water bath for 20 minutes.
- Makes 6 pints with some syrup left over (use it for another batch or to make sorbet or to sweeten iced tea).
Full disclosure: This recipe was made with nectarines I received from the Washington State Fruit Commission.
Additional Mixed Fruit Recipes:
Can i make this with less or no sugar or would it cause safety issues?
Randi, high acid fruit may be canned without sugar – using water or apple juice for example. But, no sugar affects fruit quality. Sugar (even a little like in this recipe) keeps the fruit pieces plump. Without sugar they will become mushy more quickly. Still taste good though!
The mace as in the spray was actually originally made from mace arils of the nutmeg seed, just a fyi. It was switched to capsaicin later on.
That makes sense! Thanks so much. I love these interesting tidbits of food history. 🙂