It pays to ask for “seconds” at the farmers market. Yesterday, Kim and I met up for lunch and meandering at the Ferry Building. We didn’t get around to shopping until well after the stalls had officially closed. After finding some very bruised peaches, I asked if I could purchase them at a reduced price to make jam. As I learned in Seattle, these are called seconds. 2 points for me!
I had seen a post on Smitten Kitchen for peach butter and was intrigued. I figured I would halve the recipe and check it out for myself. Surprisingly, it doesn’t contain butter and has less sugar than I expected. The sweetness comes from the ripened fruit and tastes wonderful on fresh bread. (Lakshmi, I thought of you while buying some whole wheat walnut bread at Acme yesterday!)
Yield: 4 cups
- 4 pounds peaches
- 1 cup water
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 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. [If you have a food mill, skip the peeling step and continue reading.]
Halve your peaches and remove 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. If you have a food mill, run them 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.
Let peach butter cool (unless you’re canning it). If you’re not canning it, keep it in an airtight container in the fridge. It should be good for at least two weeks.