Friday, May 18, 2012

La Persicata (Patience Gray's Wild Peach Jam)

      In the south, il persico, the peach tree (Prunus persica) grows wild; it never seems to ripen its fruits, at best they remain a golden green.  This is the stock on which early-ripening peaches are grafted, but as cultivated peaches need watering, and water is what we lack, we remain with the wild one.  In October, when its fruits are large, plentiful and still unripe, I gather them to make a delicious green jam. 

  Use 800g (nearly 2 lb) of sugar for each kilo (2 1/4 lb) of green peaches.  You have to peel them and stone them by cutting inwards in equal segments.  Simmer the fruit barely covered with water, with two bayleaves, for 10 minutes, let it cool a little, then pour on the sugar.

  Add some minute strips of zest cut from a fresh lemon or citron (untreated with dephynyl).  Boil up rapidly.  When the fruit is transparent and the syrup adheres to the spoon held aloft, pour it into heated preserving jars and seal when cool.  Unripe apricots can be cooked in the same way, but being smaller, you cut them in half.

  The bay-tree, Laurus nobilis, here grows wild, and in preserves the fresh picked leaves are used, not the dried.  The citron, Citrus medica, large and more knobbly than the lemon, has an even more perfumed zest.

NOTE:  With June on the wing, this wild peaches section from Patience Gray’s Honey From A Weed lifts the spirits, excites the mind and stirs the heart, but really it’s a book for any season or mood.  I can read it from cover-to-cover and then again.


  1. Wow, I love the idea of eating and preserving wild fruit. Thanks for the post.

  2. So do I. If you've never read Patience Gray's book, I think you'd like it a lot. Just semi-recovering from a week of computer problems and last night stepped into a house electricity mess. Refuge in Patience Gray's words and images may be the only thing that can keep me going this week. Curtis