Peach ButterSeptember 24, 2013 at 1:00 PM | Posted in Sometimes I cook. | 2 Comments
Anna: “What are these?”
Me: “Peaches I picked from Laura‘s tree.”
Anna: “What are you going to do with them?”
Me: “Make peach butter. I think that’ll be better than jam.” The peaches were good but not let’s-highlight-the-flavor-in-a-bright-jam good.
Me: “That’s a great idea! I will now.”
Isn’t she awesome? I love that kid.
But this is the story of peach butter, not peach pit jelly.
And that story begins with failure. I picked some peaches from my sister-in-law’s tree and followed the recipe for peach butter from Ball® Complete Book of Home Preserving. I split the peaches and cooked them on the stove top with water. I pried the pits away from the halves that had them and milled all of the halves by hand to separate the flesh from the skins. I added lemon juice and sugar to the flesh and simmered it slowly over a low burner while stirring frequently. And somehow I scorched that batch. It was RUINED. I was PISSED. And so disappointed because I had tasted it and had such high expectations.
So I started anew. I picked more peaches, lots more. I decided on a difference approach, both because of the increased quantity and because once bitten, twice shy. Slow cooker(s) to the rescue! I put the peach halves in three (I know!) slow cookers and let them soften for several hours. Then I pitted and milled them as I had the first time—five hours of work over the course of two mornings yielded 22 cups of peach purée. <phew>
Into a 4-quart slow cooker went half of the peach purée + 5 spent* vanilla beans. I propped the lid open with a spoon to let out the steam, set it on low, and cooked it down overnight with occasional stirring. When it was reduced in quantity and considerably darker I added 3 cups of sugar and then let it cook some more, still stirring it once in a while. By the time it was the color I expected peach butter to be, and it held its shape on the spoon, it had been in the slow cooker for about 24 hours. I fished out the vanilla beans and blitzed it with a hand blender to a silky smooth consistency.
*I steeped a batch of vanilla extract last year and saved the beans.
I ladled the peach butter into jars…and then had a bit of a freak-out. I remembered that the Ball® recipe calls for half as much sugar as purée + lemon juice. I was using Marisa’s guidance and she uses much less sugar and no lemon juice. I figured I was OK but I wanted to be sure…so I asked her.
@zigged That is perfectly safe to can. As long as you used yellow peaches, no additional acid is necessary.
— Marisa McClellan (@marusula) September 13, 2013
Reassured, I processed the jars. (I remember I did them for 10 minutes for the second batch per the Ball® recipe. I may have done the first batch for 15 minutes per Marisa’s recipe.) Several days later I made & canned another batch using the same technique. Each batch made 6 half-pint (8-oz.) jars.
I thought this would be SO DELICIOUS but it is, well, only so-so. To me, at least. Maybe I should’ve added almond extract or some pie spices. Maybe I should’ve cooked it less. Maybe I should’ve added more sugar or used brown sugar. Maybe it was the peaches. Maybe it was the spent beans. I don’t know. <shrug>
Not sure I’d make this again. I really wanted to take advantage of the free peaches but it was a lot of work for a less than spectacular product.