Black Raspberries

Black Raspberries

I went to a farm today with my mom, sister, and baby niece and we all picked black raspberries. There wasn’t very many this year because of the weather and I think other people had already gotten most of them, but when I looked hard there were hidden treasures behind all the leaves and thorns. Raspberries bushes, why do you need so many thorns?

Most raspberries here are ripe when they turn red but these aren’t ripe until they turn from red to black. Even though I had to reach past many thorns and my hand and arm got scratched a lot (and also I was bleeding a little) it was fun and the raspberries taste good. ^__^

Peach Jam for my Waffles

For a while now I’ve been thinking about branching out and writing something on the culinary arts, since I do most of my own cooking. Above is a bunch of 20 yellow peaches that I got for $0.77 per pound. For those of you outside the US, this is a very good price because I normally see them for closer to $2.50-3.00 per pound. Since I had so many I needed to figure out something to do with them all, and this is what I came up with.

I wasn’t following a recipe for this and have never done this on nearly this scale before, but I think it turned out pretty well. Sorry about the bad lighting in most of these photos.

The peaches were all hard when I first got them, so I let them ripen for a couple of days in a bowl with some apples. As apples ripen, they produce a gas called ethylene which causes nearby fruit to ripen faster. This is the origin of the saying “one bad apple spoils the whole bunch.” The more an apple ripens the more ethylene it releases, which causes surrounding apples to ripen more and also produce more ethylene, resulting in a chain reaction of an entire bunch of apples becoming too ripe too soon. In this case, I used them to have fully ripe peaches without having to wait as long. Just don’t leave them with the apples too long.

First I washed all the peaches and discarded the stems and stickers. After a little trial and error I found that the best way to cut a peach in half was to just make a shallow cut on the top, about as deep as shown above, in the same direction as the natural indent. This will also be the direction the pit is in. As always, a sharp knife is important.

Then just gently pull the two halves apart with your thumbs.

After discarding the pit, slice the halves into thin wedges.

Leave the skin on.

You won’t notice it in the final product and there’s nutritional value in it.

I then turned the wedges and, holding between 2-4 at a time, sliced them perpendicular to the direction before. Don’t worry about making them all the same size, it really won’t matter. I found that it was easier to hold fewer wedges at once without them slipping.

You might come across a peach with a broken pit like this one above. The center of it looks a lot like an almond. This peach is still perfectly fine though, so just discard the pit and make sure to get all of the hard fragments out before cutting it up with the rest.

I don’t really work fast, especially when a knife is involved, so I think at my fastest I was doing about 1 peach every 2 minutes. In all, it took about 1 hour for all of the washing and cutting with 20 peaches. I’m sure a chef could do each peach in a few seconds though.

This is an 8 quart stainless steel pot. That’s about 7.57 liters. I wasn’t expecting just 20 peaches to fill it this much. I added 2 cups of water (about .47 liters) to get things started, but I think 1 cup would have been fine since the peaches will release their own water once they heat up a little.

I set the heat at about medium high. My stove is electric and I think it’s a little weak, so you might not have to set the heat as high as I did. Stir often and if anything feels like it’s sticking on the bottom then turn the heat down. It’s better for the heat to be set a little too low than a little too high.

It doesn’t take long before they start releasing a lot of water. A lot of the cooking process is just getting all this water to boil off and for everything to thicken.

At some point you’ll need to add some sugar. I added a cup (about .24 liters) of maple syrup. If you want it very sweet then consider adding up to twice that amount, but I think that it’s better if the sweetness isn’t too high so the flavor of the fruit can be enjoyed without being overpowered by sugar.

As they cook down they’ll start looking like this. Remember to stir often.

At this point they’ve been cooking about an hour and a half. It isn’t as thick as it could be, but I thought this was close enough.

This is about how it should look. The skins that I left in earlier aren’t impossible to find, but hard to notice and they don’t get in the way of eating.

Here I’ve put them on a stack of waffles, but you can put them on all sorts of things. I think the peaches are best warm. You can store them in the refrigerator for at least a few days. I don’t know how long they last though because I eat them all before then. ^_^