June 15, 2012

Peach Butter

ruit trees can be relatively delicate plants. Many things can happen to them causing them not to produce. Two years ago, Lenny's parent's peach tree supplied an abundance of peaches. More than we knew what to do with. The next year, something happened where no peaches were produced at all. We believe it may have been affected by a late frost or possible blight. Whatever the cause, it was put into prospective....pick and save what you can while it lasts because nothing is ever guaranteed.  

    This year we have been blessed with an early fruit but with the downfall of insect invasion due to the lack of a true winter. The dry spring we have been enduring also hasn't help the peaches either.We ended up picking what we could before the fruit was devastated by the hungry little bugs. Many were ripe yet small and others were small and not yet ripe.We decided to try and allow them to ripen as much as possible by setting them out on brown paper bags. This lasted only a few days. We picked the peaches on a Sunday and by Wednesday some of the fruit was beginning to spoil.
    Little thought had been given as to what I should make out of these peaches. I knew for sure I was not going to make the cliche peach cobbler. I wanted to put together something I could store easily and be able to enjoy now as well as when winter rolls around. So as I browsed the internet looking for some inspiration I came across a recipe for Peach Butter. Similar to apple butter, it can be used as a spread.
    To begin I took my bunch of peaches cut a slight X in the bottoms and blanched them. To blanch them, I placed a few peaches at a time in a pot of boiling water for around 40 seconds then took them from the pot and placed them in the sink which I had cleaned out and filled with ice cold water. The X's I had cut into the fruit gave me a starting point to remove the skins. The riper the peach the easier the process.
    Once I had pealed all of the peaches I then began to salvage the best parts of the fruit by cutting off the tops, turning them upside down and making 4 slices around the pit. I tried to avoid the pit by not immediately cutting the fruit in half because many of the pits had been demolished by the bugs. I then removed all the unusable areas, such as bruised or eaten at areas and threw the good stuff in the rinsed out pot I had used to blanch the peaches in. This took quite a while. I also ended up throwing on some latex gloves to protect my hands from the constant moisture.
    I then added a cup of water to my pot with the peaches in it and brought it to a boil. Once at a boil I then brought the temperature down to allow them to simmer for around 20 minutes. This allowed the peaches to become tender.

    After the peaches became tender I dumped the pot into my food processor and made a puree. Once I was confident there were no large chunks, I poured the puree back into my pot and added a cup of sugar and the juice of 1 lemon. I brought the pot back up to a strong simmer but light boil. At this point I covered the pot because it was beginning to spit and I didn't want to make a larger mess than needed to be cleaned up later. Make sure you occasionally stir the pot that way you don't get burnt peach butter at the bottom. I let the mixture to cook for around 40-45 minutes. You can check it's doneness by spooning a ribbon of the peach butter across the top. If it keeps its form before submerging back into the rest, it's done.

    At this point you can either put it in an air tight jar and place it in your fridge or you can can it. I chose to can the peach butter because there is no way in heck I can eat all of this over a short period of time.

    In order to can your peach butter, I recommend sterilizing everything while the peach butter is cooking. That way you are ready to go once it is done. You can easily sterilize you jars by submerging in water and boiling for 10 minutes. Also you may want to use a pressure canning pot without the lid. I found that when I placed the jars into my pot to boil, they raddled like crazy. Pressure caners usually come with a small plate on the bottom to prevent this. By using a regular pot without the plate, you risk the possibility of cracking the jars.

    You take the mixture, while it is piping hot, and pour it into each jar leaving a little space at the top. I used our canning funnel to reduce the amount of spillage from the pot. Once the jars are filled you will want to wipe down the rims removing any spillage there may be that may prevent a proper seal. Place the lids and rings on the jars making sure the rings are screwed on tightly. Then you will place the jars in a deep pot filled with enough water to cover the jars and bring to a boil. Allow the jars to boil for 10-15 minutes. Remove the jars from the pot, place them on a towel, and allow them to cool. After about 30-40 minutes you should hear them starting to pop. An indicator they sealed properly.

Voila! Peach Butter

I hope you enjoy. I know I am going to.

For any questions or suggestions feel free to leave a comment or e-mail us at thehomesteadjones@yahoo.com.

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