This is the perfect time of year to can, as the bounty of the season overwhelms us and the cooler temperatures make it appealing to heat up the kitchen.
Peach butter, with its delightfully smooth texture and pure peach taste, is a terrific way to preserve those fragile orbs. Save a few jars for a midwinter brunch potluck, when the butter can steal the show on toast, pancakes or muffins. This recipe has a delicate touch of peachy tartness — taste the batch and add a bit more sugar if you like your fruit butter sweet.
Adapted from a recipe on smittenkitchen.com
(makes 4 cups)
4 pounds peaches
1 cup water
2 cups granulated sugar
Juice of one lemon
1 vanilla bean
1. First, sterilize several half-pint jars and lids by boiling them in a large, deep pot of water for 10 minutes. The water should cover the jars completely.
2. Peel the peaches by cutting a small “x” in the bottom of each peach, dipping it into a pot of boiling water for 30 seconds and then into a bowl of cold water for a minute. The peel should slide right off. Halve the peaches and remove the pits, then cut into chunks.
3. 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.
4. Puree the mixture in a food processor or blender. Return the peaches to the large pot and add sugar, lemon juice and the seeds from the vanilla bean.
5. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil and cook for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. To test for doneness, drizzle a ribbon of sauce across the surface. When the ribbon holds its shape before dissolving into the rest of the mixture, the batch is done.
6. To can your peach butter: Divide the hot peach butter between the jars, leaving a little room at the top. Wipe the rims clean with a dry towel and cover the jars with their lids. Submerge the jars in a large, deep pot of boiling water for 10 minutes, using tongs to dip and remove them. Let cool completely on towels for a few hours. If canned properly and stored at room temperature, the peach butter should last well throughout the winter.