Nectarine sauce

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A few nights ago my favorite peach vendor at the farmer’s market sold me an 8-lb bag of nectarines and peaches for a song.  They all had minor blemishes, but were still perfectly delicious.  The peaches I washed, halved and froze to be reincarnated later as peach pie smoothies (look for a future post with that recipe).

As the evenings are beginning to get cool around here, I thought it would be fun to make something warm with the nectarines without all the work of baking.  Inspired by my friend’s nectarine jam-making frenzy, but much too tired at 9pm to take on preserves and canning, I decided to just make a simple sauce, like I would with rhubarb, minus the sugar.  With just 10 minutes of effort and my beloved immersion blender, I had a beautiful, versatile and healthy sauce.  (Note: You could use a traditional blender, working carefully in batches and leaving the top slightly ajar to let the steam out.  If that’s all you’ve got, go for it.  But consider treating yourself to one of these babies and spare yourself the hassle.  You won’t regret it.  The selling point for me?  Fewer dishes.  Just puree right in the pot.  Sold.)

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Over the next few days we enjoyed it over raspberry pancakes (as a compliment to and substitute for some of the syrup) and swirled in plain yogurt topped with granola or pine nuts.  My son and I both ate it plain, like applesauce, too.  Next time I make this I will play around with adding warm spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger to give it a more complex flavor.  As it was, this sauce was lovely, with a purity that signifies the best of summer foods.

Recipe
Time: 40 minutes: 10 minutes hands-on, 30 minutes cooking
Yield: ~7 cups (I used damaged nectarines resulting in a lower yield.  I estimate you would get about 9 cups if you used unblemished ones.)

Ingredients
11 nectarines (any amount would work, as would peaches or plums)
1 cup raspberries, fresh or frozen (optional)

Directions
1.  Wash nectarines and cut into large chunks.

2.  Dump nectarine chunks into a medium sauce pan and place on medium-high heat.  Cook about 30 minutes, occasionally squishing and stirring them with a potato masher.

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3.  Turn off the heat and puree with an immersion (or traditional) blender.

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4.  Stir in raspberries if using.  Sweeten further with sugar if desired.

5.  Serve in preferred manner.  Store in the fridge for up to 5 days and/or freeze in small portions (1 cup or so).

Tip: I find this wide-mouth funnel, intended for canning, to be very helpful when transferring foods to glass jars for storage in the fridge or freezer.  While I may use it only once or twice a year for canning, I use it several times a week for filling canning jars intended for the fridge or freezer rather than the canning bath.  Although you can certainly manage without it, I find I spill (and waste) much less food than when I try to ladle yogurt, bulk grain or nuts, soup or tomato sauce into a jar without a funnel.

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