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!
- food mill or chinois
- 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.)
- 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.
- Prepare canner, jars and lids.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Canned, store in a cool, dark spot for up to 1 year.