This time of year, I’m canning like crazy, perhaps obsessively, I’ll admit. My current obsession is peaches, and Fredericksburg peaches are beautiful and delicious this year. And unlike last year, where they were few and far between, the peach stands are full of more varieties than I knew existed.
Each year, I try to do something different than the years prior. I’ve made several peach jams, with ginger or cardamom, canned them in halves, and made a peach salsa that was honestly disappointing.
This year I decided on Peach Butter, and settled on this recipe from Smitten Kitchen, with some necessary alterations. I agreed with her desire not to add additional flavorings – so many recipes called for cinnamon, allspice and clove which I consider Winter spices. I did not want Winter spices cluttering up these glorious peaches!
Home with nearly a bushel of peaches, I decided to quadruple the recipe, with full understanding that this would take at lease four times as long to properly cook down. I had several varieties of peaches, some still clinging to their pits, some falling away more easily, some lighter in color and more intensely flavored than others. All delicious and amazingly juicy. So juicy, in fact that as I peeled and sliced them in to the pot, it was clear that I could eliminate the water in the recipe. They are also quite sweet, so I backed off of the sugar as well, adding only 2/3s of what was called for.
I brought the peaches in their juice to a simmer, and started skimming off the foam. (I keep the foam and make champagne drinks with it.) They foamed for the first half hour of simmering, and I kept on skimming. Once they were soft, pureed the whole pot with an immersion blender, and turned the heat down to let it start reducing.
This is where it gets downright dangerous. By this point the mixture has thickened, and bubbles are more like volcanic eruptions of hot fruit-sugar lava. This can be prevented by constant stirring, and you don’t want it to scorch anyway.
At several phases of the process, I dropped a spoonful onto a plate, let it cool, then tilted to plate to see if it budged.
You can see the final test, on the bottom, is much darker in color. And the color is beautiful! The end result is highly concentrated peach flavor that really reminds me of Texas Summer. It looks really pretty in the jars, too. (I water bath canned for 10 minutes.)
While verifying the link on the Smitten Kitchen site, so that I could properly credit her for the recipe, I came across a recipe for Peach Shortbread. I have relatives coming into town in a couple weeks and I think it might be the perfect accompaniment to our annual BBQ meal.
Several vendors at the SFC Farmer’s Markets will have peaches for a while, usually Lightsey Farms and Engel Farms. This time around, I just needed a road trip with a purpose!