Maple Bourbon Peach Butter

I’m very late to peaches this year: I picked up my first batch at last weekend’s farmer’s market and let them ripen for a few days on the counter while I thought about what I wanted to do with them.  Since they were tiny, organic and late-season fruit, I couldn’t face peeling them: my 3 and 1/2 lbs must have been about 25 peaches. I decided on a peach butter, since I hadn’t made one in a couple of years, and I could put the cooked peaches, peel and all, through a food mill rather than trying to peel all those tiny, soft peaches.

I also decided to keep this butter very simple: I wanted the flavors of maple and bourbon to come shining through, without any interference from other spices, or indeed, even the slight molasses flavor from brown sugar. I had a small taste from the pot, of course, and the flavor was quite good: fresh, peachy, with definite maple overtones and a more subtle, earthy bourbon undertone. I think it will get even better as it blends and mellows on the shelf.

I did add a small amount of sugar to the butter, as I feel it improves the overall texture, keeps the butter from separating, and protects the color from fading. However, if you’d like to make a 100% local peach butter (or you want to cut down on refined sugar), you could certainly omit the sugar, and adjust the maple syrup amounts to taste. I’ve heard only good things about Tuthilltown’s bourbon, although I have yet to try it myself.

Easy, tasty, reasonably quick preserving, that can also be completely local. And, the best part? No peeling!

Maple Bourbon Peach Butter

SPECIAL EQUIPMENT

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 and 1/2 lbs peaches, rinsed, halved, pitted & sliced
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp maple syrup, divided (I like Grade B for the strongest maple flavor)
  • 1/2 cup bourbon
  • 1/2 cup sugar (organic evaporated cane juice)
  • 1/4 cup vinegar (I used homemade peach skin vinegar; this vinegar is just for flavor/tartness, and is not necessary for water-bath safety, so any acidity will do.)

METHODS

  1. In a large preserving pot or Dutch oven, combine bourbon, 1/2 cup maple syrup, sugar and vinegar. As you pit & slice peaches, toss in the liquid to prevent browning. Once all the peaches are added, cover the pot and bring to a boil over medium-low heat. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until peaches are very soft and breaking down, about 30 minutes. Transfer fruit + juice to a food mill and work through to remove skins.
  2. Prepare canner, jars and lids.
  3. Strain liquid from peach pulp into the preserving pot, stirring the pulp often in the colander and letting it drain for about 20 minutes. Let peach pulp continue to drain over a bowl while you bring the liquid in the pot to a brisk boil over high heat. Continue to boil the peach juice until it is reduced and syrupy, but not quite at the gel stage (about 20 minutes with my 13-inch wide Le Creuset). Periodically add any additional strained liquid to the pot. When liquid is nearly ready, purée the peach pulp, using a food processor, blender or immersion blender, then add to the preserving pot. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer over medium heat, then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered with a splatter screen and stirring frequently, until the butter reaches the desired thickness (no liquid should separate when you put a dollop on a cool plate, and/or it should mound on a spoon). Taste and adjust flavorings. I added the extra 2 tbsp maple syrup here. You may want to stir in about 2 tbsp of bourbon as well, if you’d like a stronger bourbon flavor.
  4. Ladle hot peach butter into hot jars, taking care to bubble the jars and adjust head space to 1/2-inch. Wipe rims, affix lids and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Yields approximately 4 cups.

OPTIONS

  1. If you don’t have a food mill and/or don’t want to push the peach pulp through a fine sieve, you could try to purée in a VitaMix or other strong blender that will sufficiently break up the peach skins.
  2. Fruit sweetness changes from year to year depending upon growing conditions, variety of fruit, etc. Start with about half of the sweetener called for and adjust for taste as the butter cooks down.

STORE

Canned, store in a cool, dark spot for up to 1 year.

SEASON

Summer.

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25 comments

  1. SJ Smith

    OH that sounds decadent! I couldn’t imagine making peach jam. Just didn’t sound too appealing to me… but YOURS IS INSPIRING! : )

  2. Claire Entas

    This sounds divine! My peach-o-file hubby would love this! Please tell me more about your peach skin vinegar. I would love to learn to make my own. Is the vinegar you speak of infused with peach skin or truly homemade vinegar.

    • Hi Claire,

      Mine was not “true” homemade, but simply peach skins, plus a little clinging flesh, added to plain white vinegar. It was an experiment of sorts, to see if I could make white vinegar palatable by infusing with fruit flavor (and to do something with the peach skins other than throw them away). I think it worked pretty well: it’s not a vinegar I would use to dress a salad, but it has worked great in a lot of preserves and dishes this year when I want something more flavorful than plain white vinegar.

      I’m not sure if there is enough sugar in peach skins to be able to ferment them into homemade vinegar, although, it works for apple skins, so maybe? Worth a shot at least, if you’ve got a big supply.

      • Claire Entas

        Thanks for letting me know. I will put that on my list of infusions for next year. Currently I am running an experiment with a few jars of vinegar and assorted pulps leftovers from my jelly making. I have been splurging on a white balsamic peach vinegar for a dressing vinegar but i love the challenge of making my own at least once!

  3. Lynn

    Very nice peach butter! I’ll add it to my repertoire. I’m making fruit butters to go into the bread basket we serve at the restaurant where I work…they are a hit! My technique has been to dump fruit, peel and all, into the pot with my liquid, be it wine or ale (yes! it tastes great!) or juice or water, with my sweetener and my acid and spices. I let this cook down to where the fruit is soft and then buzz everything smooth with a stick blender and then pot goes back on the stove to cook down to almost soft set. No mess except one pot and the butters come out fabulous. Without the added food mill step, I can make these almost daily without breaking stride on all of my other prep work because it invariably gives opportunity to accidents when I’m in a hurry with too many “sticks in the fire” going on and I have to mill hot, sugary fruit reductions…they act like napalm on your skin should you spill any of it.

    Love the peach vinegar, too! Thanks!!

  4. mollisia

    I love peaches. i did sth like your peach butter, but maple syrup and bourbon made them special for sure :) next time I’ll try your recipe :)

  5. Erika

    I just adapted this recipe to use up the apple pulp left over from making jelly. Doubled the vinegar (cider vinegar) and the sugar and it’s perfect! A nice change from the usual apple pie in a jar flavour. Thanks!
    4 cups of apple purée = 4 cups of butter.

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  8. Julia

    I am getting a new pantry so trying lots of new things to put in there. Oh my goodness is this delicious. added the extra maple syrup and bourbon because it was a tad bland early on. Neither flavor dominates but the combination is divine. Thanks so much.

  9. Laura

    I made this today and I couldn’t get it to set at all. I even reduced down until I only had 3 half pants. It still tasted great so I’m just going to call it a syrup but I’m not sure what went wrong.

    • Hmm: fruit butter doesn’t really achieve a “set” so much as it just thickens up enough to spread; there is no magic place when it is “done” – just done enough for you. My peaches were quite tiny, so perhaps your 3 and 1/2 lbs were much more juicy and had less pulp, meaning you needed to reduce down even further? I am surprised that it should still be syrupy by that stage, but at least it was still delicious!

  10. I cooked this up today and ohmygoodness is it delicious! Exactly what I wanted. I’m always a little disappointed with peach jams: they are too sugary with too little peach flavor. This is my first peach butter, but definitely not my last. It is so peachy!

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