One of the joys of making your own fresh country peach butter is having the ability to not only choose how much, but what kind of sweetener to use. To keep it even easier, there is no need to peel the peaches; the skins just disappear into the fruit butter, adding both flavor and deep color.
The making of Fresh Country Peach Butter
Have you ever made your own fresh jam, preserves or fruit butters?
Neither had I, until recently when my peach tree decided to give me a plethora of fruit, all ripe at the same time. There's only so much you can do in a short period of time -
Easy Peach Cobbler? Check.
Fresh Peaches and Cream? Check.
Fresh Country Peach Butter? Double Check!
I've had my peach tree for about 4 years now. The first year, it gave us a few, nice peaches.
The second year, it gave us a bunch of peaches...
So many peaches, all bunched together, that we had to tie the tree up to poles to keep the branches from breaking. The only problem was because the peaches were so close together, they really didn't have room to grown...
From this, I learned lesson #1 in peach farming...you have to prune the peach tree.
So I did, and that year I got no peaches. Not a one. Guess there's this thing that you can't cut the bud tips from the tree. That's where the peaches come from.
Lesson #2 - learned.
So this winter, after properly pruning the peach tree, then thinning the peaches to 1 peach every 6 inches, I got beautiful, full-grown, delicious peaches...but they came all at one time, and ripened within weeks of each other.
And from these, I made my Fresh Country Peach Butter.
What's the difference between jam, preserves, and butters?
The differences between peach jam, preserves and butters are that jams generally use a pectin to make a thicker spread, preserves have chunks of fruit inside of a jelly-like substance, and butters are generally made from less sugar, no pectin, and are smoother and creamier. Since I did leave some chunks of fruit in my "butter" I guess it's really a cross between preserves and fruit butter - although I could have processed the final product in either my food processor or with an immersion blender to get that fully smooth consistency - I chose not to.
"What do I love? Cooking, to make it your own!".
To peel or not to peel?
One of the reasons I've always been hesitant to make a jam or preserve from peaches is the mess of peeling peaches. There is just no way to do it without getting peach juice all over the place. At least, not if you have properly ripe peaches. So when I spoke with some chef friends who can peaches all the time and was informed that they did not peel their peaches, I thought, YAY, I won't miss that step.
"don't peel your peaches".
The secret cooking method? Start and Stop!
The second thing I found when investigating how to make this recipe was when cooking down the peaches, there were complaints about how the peaches bubble and boil and spray their peach juices all over the stove and countertops. Even when being cooked in a slow cooker with the lid slightly ajar.
How to overcome this? By using an old-fashioned technique. I'm going to call this the "start and stop" method.
Start by bringing the peaches, the minimum amount of sugar, and lemon juice (along with that pinch of salt for roundness) to a simmer in a deep pot, large enough to have at least 6 inches from the top of the peaches to the top of the pan. Stir and let cook over a low heat for 10 - 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, then turn off the heat. Let them just sit there until they come to room temperature, then repeat.
Repeat 5 or 6 times.
At about round 3, taste and adjust for sugar.
Each time you cook them, stir them. Not constantly, but a few times to prevent scorching and to keep a film from forming over the top which will stop the simmering bubbles from bursting through that film to create the sputtering mess.
Yes, it does take some hands-on time. If you start early enough, you could get it done in one day, but I spread this out over two days - preserves have enough sugar that they won't spoil if left at room temperature overnight.
So not only was is this recipe super easy to make, but it's darn tasty too!
And my kitchen remains "splatter" free.
LindySez: If you are not familiar with "canning" here are a few tutorials to help you out:
Penn State University - Not Recommended Canning Methods
Fresh Country Peach Butter
- 11 - 12 pounds fresh ripe peaches pitted and sliced into eights (no need to peel)
- 2 - 4 cups granulated sugar or another sweetener equivalent (as needed - and depending on sweetness of peaches)
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice about 1 medium lemon
- Pinch of salt
- Additional Equipment - 6 pint-sized canning jars with lids
- In a large deep stockpot, mix the peaches, lemon juice, 2 cups sugar, and a pinch of salt. Toss well to coat. Place the pot on the stove over medium heat and bring to a light boil, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. Simmer for about 10 - 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the pot to stand, uncovered, until just back to room temperature - this takes anywhere from 30 - 45 minutes.
- Turn the heat back on to medium, and repeat the above step. You will do this from 5 - 6 times depending on how thick you want your butter to be. At the third time, taste and adjust for sugar. Stir it each time to prevent scorching as well as to break the peaches up and make the consistency as smooth as you like. (The final time, the butter should be quite thick, so a lower temp and more stirring might be called for.)
- After the final simmer, and while the peach mixture is hot, transfer into sterilized jars leaving ½ inch "headroom". Screw the lids on to make a good seal, then carefully transfer the jars to a pot of boiling water (the water should cover the tops of the jars by 1-inch). Simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the jars (carefully, they will be very very hot). Flip upside down onto a cooling rack and allow to cool to room temperature. Label and store in a cool dark place for up to 12 months. Refrigerate after opening.
Love the comparison photos that shows the value of thinning the fruit before it matures...and this peach butter is awesome on waffles!