Saturday, August 25, 2012

Peach Jam and Peaches in Syrup

Sara brought me twenty-three pounds of peaches from a couple untended trees at her school. (That's nowhere near keeping up with the amazing League of Urban Canners, but it's our humble contribution to harvesting otherwise unwanted fruit.)

We launched a large-scale blanch, pit, and peel operation this morning (yes, after unsuccessfully searching the Internet for "no peel peach jam"), and quickly learned that we had two varieties of peaches (one clingstone and one freestone). To heap insult upon insult, the clingstones also refused to peel neatly.

I used ten pounds of the peaches to make twelve half-pints of jam. I like Punk Domestics for unusual peach recipes (peach vanilla prosecco jelly, spicy peach jalapeno jam), but I went with a pretty straight-up peach-vanilla-ginger recipe (variant of this one) today, hoping for a simple classic to rival last summer's Concord grape jam. Yum!

I was thinking I'd freeze the rest of the peaches for another day, but they were less-neat-wedges and more-soupy-mess and would have frozen into a solid block of peach popsicle.

So thinking of pies and crisps and crumbles, I stumbled on this discussion ("Too many peaches"), and was inspired back into canning action. I canned three quarts of the pieces, covering them with hot simple syrup, tucking in sprigs of fresh rosemary and basil, and boiling ten minutes to seal. Hoping that the fruit and syrup will seem like an inspired dessert served over pound cake this winter.

P.S. Some people use their peach pits and peels to make things like peach pit jelly and peach butter. I got as far as chopping up all the peels in the food processor and cooking the slurry down to butter-like consistency, but I didn't like the texture and didn't feel like cooking them for two more days to see if it improved. Ended up straining the results for a couple cups of spiced peach syrup.

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