Allow me to give you some very simple math equations:
Late summer = peaches.
Peaches + sugar + stove top = peach butter.
Peach butter = heaven in a jar.
Ahhh, now there’s some math that doesn’t make my head spin. Helllllloooo, peaches!
There’s a man down the road from us who grows peaches and sells them every year out of his front yard. (Food doesn’t get more local than that, right?) Almost every year we stop by once or twice and buy some peaches from him.
Georgia may get all the peach praise, but Tennessee peaches ain’t too shabby either!
We have made peach jam, peach and apple compote, simple preserved peaches, peach cobbler…basically the whole shebang. My mom and I often pack up and head to my grandmother’s to do our canning. What can I say, she’s a source of canning wisdom and she doesn’t have dogs in her kitchen.
Also, something about putting away food brings people together. Kitchens are the true gathering place of southern homes.
We bought peaches less than five minutes away from us that were picked that morning and canned them the next day at my grandmother’s house. That’s some fresh, local, in-season deliciousness.
Peach butter is extremely simple — even easier than jam. It doesn’t require a whole lot of precision. Mostly it just takes time and patience.
The hardest part is not to eat it all before it’s finished. It smells soooo goooood as it cooks. And fresh peaches. Who can resist those?
Here’s the Recipe:
– large stainless steel pot
– general canning supplies (funnel, ladle, tongs/jar lifter, bubble freer, magnetic lid lifter)
– towels and/or potholders
– plate to set utensils on
– peeler and/or sharp knife
– measuring cups and spoons
– blender or food processor
– a couple of bowls to collect peach peelings and scraps (psst — save those peelings and stick ’em in the freezer!)
– 14-16 medium-large peaches (you can absolutely halve this recipe if needed)
– 1 cup water
– 3/4 – 1 cup real cane sugar, depending on sweetness of peaches and taste preference (you can also experiment with substitutes if you prefer)
– 4 tablespoons lemon juice
– 1/2 – 1 teaspoon cinnamon, according to taste (I used 1/2 tsp to allow the peach flavor to shine) Alternatively, you can also toss in a cinnamon stick or two instead and remove before putting into jars.
First things first, peel those peaches and cut them into chunks. These don’t have to be perfect. They’re going to be pulverized later anyway. Discard the pits and any bruised or damaged flesh, but save those peels! Toss ’em in a baggy and stick in the freezer. We’re going to make peach peel jelly with them later. Waste not, want not.
Resist eating too many of the peaches. I know, it’s hard.
Place the peach chunks, water, and sugar in a large stainless steel pot and bring to a boil. Allow to boil gently, stirring often, for about twenty minutes or until the peaches are tender. You’re going to get a lot of juice in this stage, which is normal.
Once soft, take the peaches off the stove and begin ladling the peaches and their juices into a blender or food processor in manageable batches. Alternatively, you can also use a stick blender at this stage. Blend until smooth. It shouldn’t be chunky, but it should also not be liquefied.
Pour the peach puree back into your stainless steel pot and add the lemon juice and cinnamon, stirring well. Bring back to a boil. Slightly reduce the heat and allow to boil gently. Stir frequently at this stage and babysit that pot so the peaches don’t scorch.
Continue gently boiling, stirring, and babysitting until the butter is reduced and thickened. This will take approximately 30-50 minutes depending on several factors, including how juicy the peaches were.
You are shooting for a thick butter that sheets off the spoon. If you are unfamiliar with sheeting, check out this source for an explanation. The longer the butter cooks the thicker it will be. Also keep in mind that it will continue to thicken a little as it cools.
Now at this stage you have three options: You can put your peach butter in the ‘fridge for eating quickly, freeze it, or waterbath can it for shelf-stable storage. I opt for the latter.
Waterbath canning is very simple. If you’re unfamiliar with the process I highly recommend purchasing the Ball Book of Home Preserving, which has guidelines for safe practices, step by step instructions, and lots of recipes. The length of time to waterbath also varies by altitude, so check out the Ball Book for the appropriate length of time to waterbath in your location.
And that’s it! In just a couple of hours you’ve made beautiful peach butter.
This recipe made about 3.5 pints + the pretty jar you see in the pictures above, which I stuck in the fridge for eating with bruschetta and melted brie. Mmm.