I don’t know about you, but I’m finding more and more reasons to put away the fruit of the harvest from my garden and from local farms.
I grew up in the suburbs of Atlanta and back then we weren’t into canning so much, but my mom did can some fruits and vegetables. These days, she’s into canning and freezing the bounty from her beautiful gardens. I get my gardening inspiration from her. It was my Grandmother, from South Georgia, that canned a good bit while we were growing up. Although I did not learn the art from her, it must’ve rubbed off on me. It’s in my veins now and once the bug hits you, there’s no turning back.
I’m glad the bug hit me. Homemade jams taste so good and definitely enhance the bread experience. This Spicy Peach Butter is a delicious reminder of summer. It goes down really easy.
I got some Georgia Loring peaches when we visited a farm last week. Loring peaches are freestone peaches, the perfect peach for canning. They taste great, and are really easy to work with.
To prepare the peaches for canning, I referred to the method in Sherry Brooks Vinton’s book “Put ‘em Up!” Basically, you take a really ripe peach and blanch it to remove the peel, cut it in half and remove the pit, and then smash it with your hand. You don’t even have to cut it up. Just blanch it, peel it, pit it, smash it, boil it, can it! It’s that easy!
Spicy Peach Butter
Makes: About 8 or 9 cups (Half-Pints)
- 2 1/4 cups water
- 1/4 cup bottled lemon juice
- 9 pounds peaches
- 2 1/4 cups sugar
- 1 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Step 1: Place the water and the lemon juice in a large nonreactive pot. Then prepare an ice-water bath by placing ice cubes and cold water in a large bowl or you can use a clean and sterilized sink.
Step 2: Fill another large pot with water and bring it to boil. Carefully drop 2 peaches at time into the boiling water and blanch them for 30 seconds to loosen the skins.
Step 3: Using a slotted spoon, remove the peaches from the water and place them in the ice-water bath. Repeat the process with the remaining peaches. Let them drain in a colander.
Step 4: Peel the peaches, which should be really easy now that they been blanched, then cut them in half and remove the pit.
Take the peach and smash it with your hand, then add it to the large pot with the lemon juice mixture. Repeat this process with the rest of the peaches.
Step 5: Bring the peach mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer until the peaches are soft, about 10 minutes or so.
Step 6: Cool the mixture slightly, then puree with a stick blender. The Ball Book of Canning recommends that you don’t liquefy the mixture when you puree it, but I got carried away so my mixture was liquefied. I wondered if this would keep it from reaching the gel stage, but it did okay.
Step 7: Place the pureed mixture back in the pot and add the sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Simmer this mixture over medium-low heat until it thickens. This could take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour or so. I placed a dollop on a plate that had been placed in the freezer to check if the gel was set. If the butter doesn’t spread around it’s perimeter, then it is ready.
Step 8: Remove the butter from the heat and ladle into clean, sterilized, hot half-pint jars. Leave 1/4 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles if necessary with a bubble remover and headspace tool. Wipe the edges clean. Center lid on jar. Then screw the band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip-tight.
Step 9: Place the jars in the canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water. Process in a boiling-water bath for 10 minutes in altitudes up to 1,000 feet.
If you live in a higher altitude or need more detailed instructions on water-bath canning, please refer to the instructions at the National Center for Home Preservation.
Step 10: Remove canner lid. Wait 5 minutes, then remove the jars, and let them sit on the counter for 24 hours to cool and ensure they are sealed correctly. You should hear the lids pop if they are sealed properly. Place the sealed jars in a cool, dry place for storage for up to a year. If any of the jars do not seal properly, place them in the refrigerator. They will last for a couple of months in the refrigerator.
I ended up with more jam than would fit in the 7 jars I had sterilized so I filled 2 extra jars that didn’t go in the boiling-water bath. They went in the refrigerator after they cooled down and posed for this photo.
I love the way this peach butter tastes and the texture is, well buttery… smooth and easy!