August 31, 2004

end of august: farewell to the peach season

This summer, as you might have noticed, I have gotten a lot of peaches and nectarines and used them a lot in dessert (sorbet, tart, fruit salad, and custard), while I did just eat straight out (like these). This was partly because peaches/nectarines were available at a lot more reasonable price here when compared to Japan, where they would be sort of the luxury, and also because I found a lots of unfamiliar kinds and breeds and wanted to try them.

While it may seem as if I've had enough, there was another thing that I made using peach and did not blog, which I thought might be just appropriate to mention here to wrap up the month: peach cordial.

I found the recipe towards the end of July when browsing websites. First, the name "Peach, Honey and Cardamom Wine Cordial" which precisely describes its ingredients, caught my eyes; peach and cardamom, a combination that I had never tried before, yet somehow sounded attractive.
The procedure was very simple but time-consuming, as it would take you at least five days to get it ready to drink. While I usually like something that I make and eat right away, I also enjoy to take time to let my food "ripen" and cherish the time and results. I had already made up my mind to try that out.

The recipe called for "5 large, ripe peaches" and did not specify whether they be yellow or white. From what I have seen in this country, it seemed like "peaches" would usually refer to yellow ones, but I decided to use white peaches as I like them better.

It was a wrong decision, as I would be learning later, because the overall quality of white peach available in here isn't very consistent and I actually ended up having to discard two of the five peaches because they were partly unripe and stone hard whereas other part had gotten rotten. I added one peach of different kind and secured four peaches. Good enough.

I used a cheap bottle of Aussie chardonnay as a base; I could have used more fancy one, but I thought this should be okay. It was after opening the bottle and poured it over the peeled peaches in a jar when I took a lick of the wine and figured it wasn't exactly a dry wine; well, it was too late, so I went on to the next step by throwing in cardamom pods. I almost doubled the number of pods, but resisted - after four days of steeping, it might get too much, I told myself.

Since the peaches were supposed to be completely covered in the wine but mine weren't, I placed a small piece of parchment paper with a cross on the surface of the wine so that the peaches wouldn't directly contact the air. That was it for Day 1, and I put the jar of wine and peach on a corner of the kitchen counter to let sit overnight before putting it in the fridge.

During the four days and nights of sitting, I would take the jar out of the fridge and watched and smelled the wine now and then. The color or smell didn't seem to be changing much, at least not so noticeably.

In the morning of Day 6, I strained the wine into a pan for the final step: mixing in honey and vodka. I was supposed to use Italian honey according to the recipe, but I had never seen such a thing ever in any of my local stores, so I just used Hawaiian white honey. Because the delicate white honey would radically change its flavor when heated (or so it said on the label), I just warmed up the wine a bit and removed it from heat, then added the honey (in a bit reduced amount than the recipe since the white wine was rather sweet) to dissolve. Strained once again and finished up with a dose of vodka, my cordial was looking nice and smelling lovely.

After chilled several hours in the fridge, we tried small glasses of it in the evening. The flavors of peach and cardamom were very subtle and he didn't figure what was in it, except for vodka which had been added at the very end of the process and still left its distinct sharpness in the drink. I would have liked it even better had it been more of peach and cardamom taste, but it was still nice and sweet, and you might see its subtleness as "discreet".

We kept the cordial in the fridge and took a glass or two now and then during August. The taste definitely developed over time and got substantially milder after a couple of weeks. I think I like that way better, even though he would joke it around calling it "peach juice" and requesting me to boost it up with additional vodka (which I didn't). It was a fun summer project.

It was also a nice occasion to use a pair of Bohemian crystals that my mother had given to me. She got a set of six glasses with a carafe when we went to Prague earlier this year, and gave away one pair to my sister and her husband, and another to us, saying she would only need two for her home. I usually like glasses plain simple the best, but those were a bit special to me.


Santos said...

hey chika

i have been waiting patiently for you to translate your entries on your japanese site--i didn't think you would post them all on the same day :-)

everything looks gorgeous, per usual. did you drag the coffee table outside?

testypea said...

nice blog, reminds me of

Aitel said...

Great pics! It's yours?

chika said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
chika said...

Hi there,

Santos - shh, you were not supossed to tell people about that! ;)
Well, I didn't actually drag the table outside, just by the window...

I have been pretty behind in blogging things here, haven't I?? I have been taking pictures and creating posts, but just didn't have much time to complete them ready to be published :(

testypea - thanks, I appreciate that blog too!

aitel - thanks too! You mean, the pictures? They are all ones I shot :)

Anonymous said...

What a great end of summer project... nothing like sipping a little reminder of summer on the warm fall days, or cool evenings in front of those first fires!!! Thanks for sharing this. I am on the job to try it myself!!! Donna in Harrisburg

chika said...

Hi Donna,
That is the exactly the idea they had in this recipe, enjoying a reminder of early summer on the later days... I like it a lot, too. I might actually try this one again, as peaches are still out in the stores. :)