Reducing food miles and supporting local producers are both important aspects of a sustainable way of life but some food products are becoming increasingly hard to source locally and glace or candied fruit appears to be one of those. In South Australia, several producers of glace fruit have closed shop in recent years unable to compete with cheaper imports from China and Europe. One of these was Australia’s major producer Virgin Hills, in South Australia’s Riverland, which closed in 2011.
Lissa Christopher in Good Food – Glaze into the distance and Sam Kelton in Glace fruit loses battle for preservation explain why it is becoming increasingly difficult to buy Australian-made glace fruit. Yet the Australian summer fruit industry produces more than 100,000 tonnes of peaches, nectarines, plums and apricots between October and April.
The good news is we can learn to make glace fruit at home from local or home-grown produce. This simply involves soaking fresh fruit in sugar syrup and drying it. It’s a little time consuming but easy and rewarding.The photo and recipe below are from my friend and neighbour Mary who has a lifetime experience with all kinds of preserving methods and also grows her own fruit and vegetables.
Mary’s Glace Apricots, Pears or Peaches – great with a bitey cheese!
2 lbs sugar (about 900 grams)
2 ½ lbs fruit (about 1200 grams)
Cover fruit with sugar and let stand for 24 hours. Slowly bring to boil and let stand again for 24 hours – bring to the boil and let stand for another 24 hours and repeat once more.
Strain and dry on cake racks before storing in a covered container. Kept in a cool, dry place they will keep for up to 12 months. You can also pack the cooled glace apricots into freezer packs with syrup. Layer the fruit with some syrup, then put some baking paper on top and follow with the next layer. Use generous amounts of syrup as the fruit dries out over a longer period in the freezer.
Apricots are in abundant supply in South Australia from November to February depending on the variety grown and I have always preserved this fruit by stewing and freezing (see Preserving stone fruit), bottling or making jam. I have never been a great fan of glace fruit but Mary’s glace apricots tasted much better than the shop-bought variety – not as sweet and much less chewy. Definitely worth a try and a great home-made gift for next Christmas!