"It was the wise remark of some sagacious observer, that familiarity is for the most part productive of contempt. Graceless offspring of so amiable a parent! Unfortunate beings that we are, whose enjoyments must be either checked, or prove destructive of themselves. Our passions are permitted to sip a little pleasure; but are extinguished by indulgence, like a lamp overwhelmed with oil."
William Shenstone, ‘Unconnected Thoughts on Gardening’ (1764)
Edited and introduced by Stephen Bending & Andrew McRae
My graceful offspring made fresh, organic white peach and saffron jam. Within an hour of her departure the following day, I had opened my jar and enjoyed it for lunch. I put some blue stilton cheese on top and toasted it long enough to melt the cheese and warm the jam.
Here’s the recipe – from Christine Ferber, Mes Confitures:
A scant 3 pounds white peaches. Pr 2 ¼ pounds net
3 ¾ cups granulated sugar
Juice of 1 small lemon
15 threads saffron
Blanch the white peaches for 1 minute in a pan of boiling water. Refresh them in ice water. Peel and halve them. Remove the pits and slice the peach halves. In a preserving pan, combine the peach slices, sugar, lemon juice, and saffron. Bring to a simmer and then turn into a bowl. Cover the fruit with a sheet of parchment paper and refrigerate overnight.
Next day, pour this mixture through a sieve. Bring the collected syrup to a boil in a preserving pan, skim, and continue cooking on high heat. The syrup should be sufficiently concentrated at 221F on a candy thermometer. Add the sliced peaches and bring to a boil on high heat, boiling for about 5 minutes, stirring gently. Skim again if need be. Check the set. Put the jam into jars immediately and seal.
Ok, that’s the recipe. Here’s what we had to do. First, we used a large lemon and doubled the saffron. Next, we had to cook it at least twice as long to get a pretty syrupy set – something we’ve had to do with all Ferber’s recipes. I don’t think she’s lying so much as that she may use jam sugar that has pectin in it - and we can’t get that in the States. Progeny put about half the final mix through a food mill to facilitate spreadability on toast. Finally, Ferber assumes you know all about boiling the jars etc to sterilize them first. We put the jam into the jars and then boil the jars about 15 minutes.
The jam was delicious, and the taste was not extinguished by my indulgence.