Sunday, September 18, 2011

Peach Goodness

Last year, our peach tree had issues. Nearly all the fruit got some sort of mold/rot on it before it was ripe enough to pick and eat. 

We were sad.

There was, however, just enough good peaches in the harvest to make one batch of peach shortcake, and for that we were happy.

That shortcake also let us know, quite unequivocally, that whatever variety of peach was on that tree, was G.O.O.D.   We hoped this year's crop would be better.

2010 Peach Crop: Not So Good.

And we were right! Some TLC early in the season and watchful eyes several times a day while the fruit has ripened has reaped us baskets and baskets of lovely, yummy peaches.

If I could find one bad thing to say about peaches though, it's that they just don't keep very well! We'll have harvested every day for probably a total of ten days or two weeks, and we've found that if we don't get to that fruit nearly right away, it quickly goes the way of last year's harvest - brown and moldy.

Needless to say, we've been enjoying them very much, in many ways!
Strait up...
Chopped into yogurt and granola in the morning...
Peach Jam...
Peach Pie...
and this year, something new:

Peach Butter.

The idea is from Smitten Kitchen , but I've of course changed it just a touch (what can I say - the lady and I think alike, and apparently we have very similar taste buds!).

I start with chopped peaches - skin on in my case, as I removed them later with a food mill.

I cooked them in water until they were pretty soft and you could see the skins starting to fall off.

Here's where the pit crew came in: once the peaches were soft, I (or really we) put them through a food mill to get rid of the skins and smoosh them into a sauce. This morning, Gra and the little guy were on hand to help!
Yes, the little man in this shot DOES have clothes on his
bottom half - BIG BOY UNDERWEAR, no less!!
Where DOES all that stuff go anyway?
This is the sauce right out of the food mill.
Once through the mill, I put all the sauce back in the same pot, added sugar and a little lemon and boiled it down. At first it didn't take much oversight, but as it boiled down, I had to stir it more and more often to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pot.

This is the sauce (butter!) after almost two hours of boiling.
The original recipe says that there are multiple ways to test if it's "done". I went the route of the eyeball. It seemed it reached a point where when I lifted out the spoon, the sauce dripping off it didn't end in what looked to be water. I also could pour a spoonful on top of the rest of the pot and it would sit there for a few seconds before sinking in. At this point I added more lemon, just to be sure the pH would be good for long-term storage.

The first couple of times I made this, at this stage in the game I just ladled it into clean jars, let them seal and stuck them in the freezer. Today, I was doing small jars which I hope to use around Christmas time and so decided to officially can them so they would hold outside of a freezer. 

With a little help from a dish towel, I got all twelve four-ounce jars into my canner. I processed them at boiling for ten minutes.

If you want, you can watch the exciting conclusion to the canning process in the short video above! For the full experience, make sure you have your volume turned up!

Today's finished product!
If you're interested, here's the nitty-gritty:

Peach Butter
recipe adapted from

6 pounds* of fresh peaches, cleaned, pitted and cut into eighths
1 cup water
2 1/2 c. sugar
2 Tbsp lemon juice (divided)

* this is the weight with the pits still IN the peaches, but the bad spots cut out!
  • Cook peaches with water in large pot, until soft and skins starting to fall off.
  • Process in food mill to separate skins and puree the fruit.
    • Alternately, you could poach the whole, cleaned peaches in water for 60 seconds to let you pull off the skins, then cut and cook down. In this case, instead of using the food mill, puree soft chunks using a food processor, hand blender or potato masher, and continue on as by the other method.
  • Return puree to pot, add sugar and 1Tbsp lemon (fresh or jarred OK).
    • Lots of recipes seem to add spices here - cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla etc, but like Deb, I opted for the pure peach route.
  • Bring to a boil and cook down until about half the volume (this will depend somewhat on both the moisture in your fruit and how thick you like your butter to be), about 90-120 minutes. Stir occasionally at first, frequently at the end to keep fruit from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
  • When done to the consistency of your liking, add final 1Tbsp of lemon juice and stir well to mix.
  • Ladle hot butter into clean jars. Makes about 6 half-pints. 
  • Store in refrigerator, or process, following safe canning procedures, 10 minutes in a hot water canner.

In other exciting local news:

Thomas the Train and his friends have officially
taken over the kitchen.
The little bug's affection for cheese, in all
its glorious shapes and forms, has not in
any way diminished.

Little Peep (who is not at all little any more) started cock-a-
doodle-dooing this past week. We were very very lucky to
find a nice lady at the Agway Chicken swap who wanted to
take him and give him a new home.
Bye-bye for now, Little Peep!
We harvested our potatoes! Garden
lesson #997 of the season: yield per unit
work for potatoes = VERY LOW!!!
(But none the less yummy!)
We had a wonderful trip to Oregon at the end of August.
I hope to get up a post with pictures from that visit later
this week!

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