Peaches Galore!

This past Saturday, Jason and I went to the state Farmer’s Market in Raleigh. (And Cup-A-Joe.) We walked around and ate enough samples to constitute an entire meal, and bought a bushel and a half of peaches. Seriously. A lovely morning of produce-perusing turned into a long day of chopping, squishing, boiling, and canning those peaches.

The cast of characters: peach cardamom jam, peach salsa, peach butter, and just plain peaches (with no added sugar). Let’s get to work!

We’ll start by blanching each peach by cutting a and x in the pointy end, putting them in boiling water for about 30 seconds. Then, remove it with a slotted spoon and place it in a bowl of ice water until cool enough to hold (10 seconds). Then, pick it up and the peel should slide right off! Now, you’re ready to get going.

Peach Cardamom Jam (recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens’ Canning edition)

yields about 7 half pint jars

4 cups chopped peaches

6 cups sugar

1/4 cup lemon juice

4 T powdered pectin

1 t ground cardamom

Put sugar, peaches, and lemon juice into a large, heavy-bottomed pot. The pot is actually important, so choose wisely. I suggest a dutch oven. Before you turn the heat on, use something (pastry incorporating tool, potato masher) to mush up the diced peached a little bit. Now, bring the mixture to a boil while stirring to dissolve the sugar. Then, slowly add all four tablespoons of pectin. Boil the jam hard for one minute, then continue to stir and boil gently until the jam passes a jam test. What’s a jam test, you ask? I’ll tell you. A jam test will tell you if the jam has set or not. There are several, but I like the plate test. Before you start, put a small plate or saucer in the freezer, and when you think the jam might be ready, pull it out of the freezer and spoon a little of the hot jam into the center of the plate. Give it a few minutes and then tilt the plate. If the jam runs quickly, like a liquid, it’s not ready yet. If it moves in a glob, like jam does, then it’s done. If it isn’t, just keep boiling, stirring and testing until it is. When it’s done, add the cardamom and stir gently until incorporated. Next, pour hot jam into half-pint jars (that have been sterilized), leaving 1/4 inch of headspace. Place lids (that have been simmered with the jars) on top, and gently screw on the bands. Process the jars in a boiling water canner for 5 minutes. Allow them to sit for 12 hours. It’ll take a week for the jam to totally set, so wait to open and eat.

Peach Salsa 

8 cups peaches, diced, 1 cup diced onion

6 cloves garlic, minced

2 T lime zest

1 cup diced red pepper

8 diced jalapeno peppers

1/2 apple cider vinegar

2 t cumin

4 T honey

large handful of cilantro, chopped

Cut everything up, put it in a heavy bottomed pot, bring it to a simmer.  Then, pour the salsa into pint jars that have been sterilized. Put on lids, gently crew on bands, and process in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes. Done and done! The hardest part of this one is definitely the chopping.

Peach Butter (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

4 pounds peaches (about 12 peaches)

1 cup water

2 cups sugar

juice of one lemon

Chop the peaches into quarters and then halve the quarters. (Does that make sense?) Just make peach chunks. Put the peaches and the water into a heavy bottomed pot and stir constantly over medium heat. When the peaches are soft, remove them from the heat. In a food processor, puree the peaches until smooth. Return them to the pot, bring them to a boil, then add the lemon juice and sugar. Simmer and continue to stir for 30-45 minutes or until the butter thickens up a bit. Then, pour the hot butter into sterilized jars (half-pint, pint, most sizes are fine), put on the lids, gently screw on the bands and process in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes.

Peaches with no added sugar (adapted from about a thousand websites)

These peaches were an endeavor we took on for Jason’s grandmother. There are a lot of ways to do this, we chose the method that seemed the least weird. We also didn’t want to use any fake sugar. So, here it is!

12 peaches, sliced

2 quarts unsweetened apple juice

12,000 mg vitamin c

(this is achieved by purchasing vitamin c supplements–with nothing added, so not chewable–and crushing 12,000 mg worth of them)

Pack quart jars with peaches. Put juice and vitamin c into a pot and bring it to a boil. Be sure that the vitamin c has dissolved. Pour the juice over the peaches, put on the lids, gently screw on the bands. Process jars in a boiling water canner for 20 minutes. Just FYI, the vitamin c acts as a preservative instead of extra sugar. The apple juice helps to keep the sweetness from the peaches intact.

Here’s hoping you’ll find time to peruse a farmer’s market this summer. You’ll get way more bang for your buck than at the grocery store!

One thought on “Peaches Galore!

  1. you better save me some of that jam! …and salsa, and butta and plain ole peaches. Another care package for su madre?

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