Introduction: Homemade Peach Butter

About: I love to spend time in the kitchen to relax and feed those I love with great eats and treats.

My other 'ibles indicate my true love for locally grown Ohio summer peaches, we buy them as many weekends as we can and I usually make as many desserts as I can think of, plus find ways to add them to salads and main course dishes as well. This past summer I decided to try peach butter, I love apple butter, I can imagine peach butter is just as tasty. Well, truth be told, it's probably better than apple butter, it's simply divine! I was glad this recipe from Smitten Kitchen uses about half the sugar as most other peach butter recipes, when you have perfectly ripe peaches, you don't need much sugar to make them taste better.

She actually made this as a refrigerated preserve, then figured she loved it so much she should can it. I definitely wanted to can as many batches as I could before our peaches disappeared from the local farm we buy them at, so I made a few batches of this, doubling her recipe. She doesn't add anything but lemon juice, I added cinnamon because I think it complements the peach flavor and I plain love cinnamon as much as I do peaches!

You should be forewarned to use a mighty large pot, and a splatter screen if you have one, but still be prepared to wipe down your stove from splatters during the times you have to stir. This cooks at a strong simmer and those splatters seem to fly far (usually finding my arms in the process)!

If you have a food mill, you don't need to peel the peaches, making this a very easy recipe to prepare. If you don't have a food mill, or a Vitamix, you'll need to peel the peaches, then you can use a blender, food processor, or immersion blender to get a smooth sauce.

I eagerly await July to arrive and Ohio peaches to be ready as I'm down to my last jar of last summer's peach butter; I have pork chops to glaze and biscuits, crepes, and toast ready for a nice slathering of this delicious preserve. I hope you'll try some peach butter soon, enjoy!

Makes 4 cups (I often double the recipe)

Recipe slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen:

Step 1: Gather and Prepare Ingredients

You'll need:

4 pounds (1.8 kilograms) peaches

1 cup (237 ml) water

2 cups (400 grams) granulated sugar

1 Tbsp. cinnamon (optional)

Juice of one lemon

Without a food mill: Cut a small “x” in the bottom of each peach. Dip each into a pot of boiling water for 30 seconds, and then into a bowl of cold water for a minute. The peels should slide right off. (I actually find the easiest way to peel peaches is to use a serrated peeler.)

If you have a food mill, no need to peel the peaches. Halve your peaches and remove the pits (I found a grapefruit spoon easily removed the pits), then cut each half into quarters (i.e. 8 chunks from each peach). Place peach chunks and water in a large pot and bring to a boil. Simmer until peaches are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure they cook evenly.

Step 2: Cook Peach Butter

If you have a food mill, run the peaches through it to puree them and remove the skins. If you don’t have a food mill — i.e. you already peeled your peaches — you can puree in a food processor, blender or with an immersion blender. I like my peach butter very smooth, but feel free to leave any amount of texture you prefer.

Return the peaches to the large pot, add the sugar and lemon juice and bring the mixture to a good strong simmer/gentle boil, cooking them at this level for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally in the beginning and more often near the end, as it thickens up and the fruit masses risk scorching on the bottom of the pot.

There are several methods to test for doneness: You can drizzle a ribbon of sauce across the surface; when that ribbon holds its shape before dissolve into the pot, it is done. Some people use cold or frozen plates; dollop a spoonful in the middle of one and if no water forms a ring around it in a couple minutes, it is done. Others use a spoon; if the butter remains rounded on a spoon for two minutes, it is done. You can also check the pot itself; the butter is usually done when a wooden spoon leaves a clear train when scraped across the bottom. (I use both the rounded spoon method and check for a trail with a spatula)

Let peach butter cool (unless you’re canning it, in which, follow the directions below). If you’re not canning it, keep it in an airtight container in the fridge. It should be good for at least two weeks.

Step 3: Can, Cool, and Enjoy

First, sterilize your jars, either by boiling them in a large, deep pot of water (which should cover the jars completely) for 10 minutes or washing them in lots of hot soapy water, rinsing and drying the parts well and then place the jars only in a 200 degree oven for 20 minutes. (I boil them in the large pot I can in, this ensures the water is nice and hot when I'm ready to can.) Heat the lids in a small saucepan over medium low heat (do not boil.)

Divide your hot piping hot peach butter between your jars, leaving a little room at the top (1/4-inch headspace). Wipe the rims clean with a dry towel and cover the jars with their lids, screw the bands on fingertip tight. Submerge the jars in a large, deep pot of boiling water for 10 minutes, either in a removable basket or using a jar lifter to place and remove them.

After 10 minutes turn off the heat and let the jars sit in the water for 5 minutes. Remove and let cool completely on towels, a process that can take overnight. If canned properly, the peach butter should last indefinitely at room temperature.

This is one of those recipes you hope you have just enough leftover that won't quite fill a jar so you can enjoy some immediately. Even if the entire recipe fits in jars, pop one open anyway, peach butter is too delicious to leave alone for long.

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