Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Preserve a Little Summer : Peach Butter

Two words: Peach Butter
Peaches + Sugar + Lemon = Summer in a jar = sweet warm sunshine for the middle of winter

Our peach tree did absolutely nothing this year, and by nothing I mean it didn't even blossom.  Heartbreaking -- I was very much looking forward to my first great crop of peaches.  However, peaches in other parts of the country must be doing well, because our local market had boxes and boxes of peaches at very lovely price.  So I got some.

And I set off to make peach butter.  A quick blanch of the peaches in boiling water helps the peels come off, and I peeled, pitted, and chopped about 4+ pounds (I don't have a kitchen scale, so weight measurements are tricky), and set them in a pot to cook down to softness.  I also added the zest and juice of a lemon to both balance the flavour and add acid for canning.

When the peaches were soft, I spooned them into the blender to break down even further, to a smooth, spreadable consistency.  Four blenderfuls later, I had about 7.5 cups of peach puree, to which I added sugar (about 3.5 cups), and put it back on the stove to cook down and thicken up.


The jars had been preparing, so I spooned peach/lemon/sugar mixture into hot jars and put them in the hot water canner to process for about 15 minutes.

When they were done, I had five beautiful half pints and 4 quarter pints ("jelly-sized) of peach butter -- perfect for reminding me in January and February that summer is not a figment of my imagination -- and great for gifts, too!

You can find great peach butter recipes in these two books -- one for regular peach butter (like you see here) and one for roasted peach butter, which is also delicious, but takes more peaches (I made some of that, too).

Peaches: peeled, pitted, chopped
Lemon: juice & zest (one lemon for 7-8 cups of puree)
Sugar: about 1/2 cup for each cup of pureed peach

Cook the chopped peaches (add a little water to the bottom of the pot) until they are soft and smashable.  Spoon peaches into blender or food processor in small batches.  Puree/blend until smooth and spreadable but not liquid.  Pour peaches into clean pot and add in lemon and sugar; stir in until sugar is dissolved.  Heat mixture at medium heat until it reaches a jam-like density*.
Meanwhile, prepare your jars.  Clean and heat lids, rings, and jars -- sizes and amount vary by amount of peach butter.
When the peach butter has reached the right consistency, pour into jars.  Wipe off the mouths of the jars and top with lids and rings.  Process in hot water canner for 15 minutes for half-pint jars.

If you have a little extra that doesn't fit in a jar, there's no harm in just sticking it in the fridge to eat in the summer!

*To test for jam and fruit butter readiness, drop a small, small spoonful onto a chilled plate.  If it spreads and/or separates, it's not ready yet.  If it holds its shape like a blob of jam, it's good to go.

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