Preserving in alcohol works very well with fruit, and I’ve successfully used this technique before. One of my favorite recipes for doing so is Nigella Lawson’s Figs in Rum Syrup, a simple yet spectacular recipe that is found in her book How to Be a Domestic Goddess: Baking and the Art of Comfort Cooking.
This time I decided to use a similar method, but with a different fruit (I chose local nectarines).
In addition, I adapted this recipe by substituting honey for the sugar (and by cutting the amount of sweetener down), as well as by adding some warming spices to the syrup.
A jar (or jars) of “boozy fruit” like this is perfect to stash away in your cupboard. Just think: a couple of months from now, you can open it up and savor a bit of summer’s deliciousness. These will be great on their own (but better with Greek yogurt or homemade whipped cream or vanilla ice cream); I can also see spooning these into a tart shell (perhaps over a layer of custard or mascarpone cheese)…
This method would also work with other stone fruits such as apricots, peaches and plums. If you don’t have rum, you can try it with brandy or vodka.
Nectarines in Rum Syrup with Spices
adapted from How to Be A Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson
Makes about 1 quart
*6 large nectarines, sliced in half and pitted
*2 cups water
*1/2 cup honey, preferably local and raw, plus 2 tablespoons more
*1/2 cup white rum, plus 2 tablespoons more
*2 cinnamon sticks
*3 star anise
*1 vanilla bean, split in half
*1 quart or 2 pint glass jars with lids
1. Place halved nectarines, water, the 1/2 cup honey and the 1/2 cup rum in a pot with the cinnamon, star anise and the vanilla bean. The nectarines should be covered by the liquid. Turn the heat to medium-high and stir so that the honey dissolves completely. Allow to simmer gently for about 1 hour (stir every now and then so that all of the nectarines cook equally).
2. With a slotted spoon, remove the nectarines and place in a bowl. If it's easy to remove the skins, go ahead (feel free to leave them on, though).
3. Put the syrup back on the stove, add the additional 2 tablespoons each of the honey and rum, and allow to boil gently for 10-15 minutes more, so the syrup is reduced and thickened. Remove from the heat.
4. Spoon the nectarines into your jar(s). Pour the syrup through a fine strainer over the fruit and discard the vanilla bean and spices. If some of the nectarines are not fully immersed in the liquid, add more rum so that they are all covered.
5. Cap tightly and allow to sit in a cool, dark place for at least 6 weeks. These should then be consumed within 6 months.