For the preserver, summer is our marathon season. Rhubarb is the red flag signaling the beginning of the race and tomatoes are the finish line, worth the sprint before the first frost. In between the two are countless milestones: strawberries, to start us off strong, cherries with their brief season require a bit of a push, and apricots, peaches, and plums, arriving slow and steady until we—hopefully—win the race.
Like any pro athlete, we keep our skills sharp year-round, putting up citrus curds and marmalades in January and February, while others simply enjoy the fruits of last season's efforts. Instead of logging miles, we log hours. We stock-up on fresh lids, we gather our jars, and we scour cookbooks and blogs, doing our best to visualize the season and come up with a race plan ahead of time. Factors like heat, rainfall (or lack thereof), and flagging ambition in the face of the pool or a good book will always force us to make mid-season adjustments.
"This mid-summer combination of peaches and blueberries is for that moment when we've hit our stride."
This mid-summer combination of peaches and blueberries is for that moment when we've hit our stride. We've warmed up and gotten comfortable with those early batches, and we've still got energy and enthusiasm to face the heat of the stove and the summer sun, with fruit after fruit yet to arrive.
Though strawberries and raspberries shine solo, for preserving I prefer blueberries with a running buddy. On their own they can yield a jam so dark and thick that I'll almost always pass it over in favor of the jewel tones of brighter fruits. Here, pureed peaches provide a velvety texture and a sweet, yet tart canvas for blueberries to really shine, dyeing the batch a brilliant purple and adding dimension with their skins.
There's no surprise in it; no special strategy, just two summer favorites that work beautifully together, whether fresh or jammed. The most challenging step is peeling the peaches with a dunk in boiling water, followed by another in ice water, to loosen their skins. After that's done, this is unfussy, fast work. To remove their pits, crush the peeled peaches in your hands. Moments later the blueberries can tumble in, and the whole batch goes purple. No need to linger, we've got plenty to do before summer ends.
About the Author: Emily Teel is a loud-talking food writer and recipe developer in Philadelphia, where she's the food columnist for Grid Magazine. She recently returned from Parma, Italy, where she completed a Master of Arts in Food Culture and Communications at the University of Gastronomic Sciences. A 2011 Legacy Award Winner with the women's culinary organization Les Dames D'Escoffier International, she's passionate about food and committed to the idea that everyone deserves access to meals that are both nourishing and satisfying. Follow along on twitter @brotherly_grub and see more of her work at EmilyTeel.com