Friday, August 6, 2010

Peach Butter

Well, my canning adventures have slowed down a bit with the lack of incoming cannable goodies, though I did get a bunch of habaneros today that will be processed by tomorrow, they are getting limed tonight.  Anyway, in my 'slow' time I figured I'd give you the low down on my peach butter.  Not the stuff in the Ball book, mine.

Whole Peach Butter.  Interesting concept.  Whole peach butter.  But you ask, isn't all peach butter whole?  Nope.  I shall explain......
I have 4 peach trees on the property.  Most of them give me golf ball sized, white flesh, tart peaches.  Do you have ANY idea how hard and time consuming it is to peel that many peaches?  I do.  It ain't pretty.  And the skins don't just slip off when you blanch them like they are supposed to.  So I asked myself how not to waste them.  I came up with an idea and tried it.  It was an absolute success.

Since I have so many I decided not to measure anything up front, just fill pot and go, taste for sweetness, make sure it gets to a soft set and get it into jars.  The directions go like this:

Pick the peaches, if you have some dropping already that aren't fully ripe, that's fine, get them too, helps form the gel.  Wash them off in just plain old water and let them sit in the water until they cool down to room temp, this helps with the peach fuzz, which I swear is identical to fiberglass and can be really itchy. 

Once ready get the BIGGEST stock pot you own, set it on the lowest heat setting you have, pour in a little water to keep from scorching and start with the peaches.  All you do is cut in half, remove pit, evict any worms and their mess (no pesticides used here), remove anything bad, toss in the pot and repeat until the pot is as full as you can get it.  Put a lid on it and leave it alone until the peaches start breaking down.  Stir it at this point and it should have reduced down by a third.  You don't have to do anything here but remove the lid and watch it but.... I add more.  Yes, you read that right, I start adding more, I fill it up as full as I can get it and keep cooking it on low.
Here's what that looks like:
Looks like a gloppy mess doesn't it?  Well that's what it's supposed to look like so keep cooking down, stir it on occasion, leave the lid off.  I have to keep my stove on low otherwise it burns the natural sugar in the peaches and I loose a batch so for me it's a loooong process, takes 2 to 3 days.  You can also do this in a crock pot set on low, with the lid propped up on one end, overnight I'm told but..... I've burnt a batch by ignoring it like that.  If I use the crock pot I watch it really closely, if it starts getting really dark or supper sticky on the edges I turn it off for a few hours and stir, eventually I turn it back on again.  I also set the lid on top of bamboo chopsticks over the crock so that the mush can evaporate.

Once everything looks good and mushy, I like to bring out the stick/hand blender and puree it right there in the pot, less mess that way.  And keep cooking down.  Once it gets down to about half the volume at of the pot, taste test.  It should be fairly thick and near sheeting off a spoon at this point, if not keep cooking down.  Mine is tart due to the type of peaches, but it's really tasty. 

This is when I add sugar.  It's usually about 1/4 of the volume of peach mush, I eyeball it honestly.  For my crock pot it's normally 4 cups, for the stock pot it's normally 6 cups.  After getting the sugar completely mixed in, cook it down to the level it was at before the sugar was added.  By this point it should be sheeting off a spoon and will be a soft spread once canned.

Fill jars slowly to help avoid air bubbles, the bubbles are almost impossible to get out of this stuff once they are there.  Leave 1/2 inch head space.  Water bath for 20 minutes.
At this point in the year I have canned 25 pints, 3 quarts, and 2 half pints.  Right now I'm fighting with the green beetles over the peaches so I haven't put up a batch this week, I should have enough for at least one more batch tomorrow.

And to give you an idea on yield, my 7 quart crock pot if filled and topped off with more (like what I mentioned before) normally gives me 7 pints.  My stock pot filled and topped off with more can give me up to 9 pints at a time.

Nope, it's not your everyday fare.  It's not even spiced, though you could do that before you fill your jars if you wanted.  But it is WHOLE fruit and nothing but fruit and sugar.  No artificial anything, no fillers, no crap.  And for hubby, he likes making peanut butter and peach butter sandwiches on whole wheat nearly everyday for lunches and snacks.  I just hope I made and can keep making, enough to last until next year when the peaches start dropping again.

Off to finish cleaning the peppers and to find where I hid that bag of lime.....

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