“Summer in A Jar PEACH PRESERVES”
I am finally getting around to posting my Peach Preserves recipe, just as we finally got a tiny bit of rain in dry California and cooler weather. Yay! The Suncrest and Indian Blood Peaches I used came from my own garden and a local organic peach orchard. Peaches were not my favorite fruit growing up because they came from a grocery store and were fairly tasteless. It was not until I went to Italy in my 20’s and tasted a peach right off the tree, with juices dripping down my chin, that they became my favorite summer fruit. Since then, I only eat peaches when they are in season, right off my own trees or from a local farm or farmers’ market. Like tomatoes, there is no comparison between the fresh fruit and a grocery store variety. I had so many peaches this year we could not eat them all before they would spoil, so canning was the next best thing. I call this my “Summer in A Jar” recipe for obvious reasons. In the middle of winter, I can open a jar and smell and taste the sweetness of summer. Yum!
“Summer in A Jar PEACH PRESERVES Recipe”
(You can use more peaches and just add a bit more sugar to the recipe and you can omit the crystalized ginger if you just want the taste of peaches. I usually make a batch with ginger and a batch without. The ginger really adds a nice kick and a jar of these preserves makes a great gift)
– At least a dozen large, ripe peaches, preferably from your area and recently picked
(12 peaches equals approximately 8 cups of chopped, slightly mashed fruit)
– 4 TBS. freshly squeezed lemon juice
– 2 to 4 cups sugar *
– 1 package of liquid pectin (optional) to help thicken
– 2 TBSP. finely chopped crystallized ginger (optional)
* NOTE: I know most recipes call for almost as much sugar as fruit but I want to taste the fruit, not just sugar so I usually use half as much sugar as most recipes call for. I have been canning this way for years and the only side effect of less sugar is a slightly runnier preserve, which is fine with me. Also, sometimes I use pectin to make it thicker and sometimes I leave it out and, honestly, I cannot say for sure it makes it thicker, so it’s your choice.
Before you start cooking the peaches, get your water bath ready. Heat the water and sterilize your jars and lids in a big canning pot. I leave them in the water until I am ready to fill the jars. I put the lids into a small saucepan with boiling water for a few minutes, then turn off the heat and leave them in the hot water until I need them. One of the coolest canning tools I have is a magnetic “stick” that will pull the lids out without having to touch them. They are available in most stores with the canning supplies.
Peel the peaches and remove the stone. To make peeling easier you can immerse peaches in boiling water for just a minute or so until skin peels easily. Sliced peeled peaches into a large bowl and add lemon juice immediately to keep them from turning brown. Place prepared peaches into a large pot and heat on low heat until peaches start to boil. If you are adding pectin do it now and then slowly add the sugar, stirring constantly for a minute. Turn heat down and continue to simmer while you mash the peaches. (If you want a smoother preserve you can use an immersion blender at this point to blend it to the consistency you want). Add the crystallized ginger at this point and taste for sweetness. If you want to add more sugar, do it now and simmer until it is a thick consistency. If it starts to get foamy add just a teaspoon of butter to the peaches. Remove the sterilized jars from the water bath and fill with peach preserves, leaving ½ inch of headspace. Place the sterilized lids on jars and put in the boiling water bath for the amount of time it says in the canning jar directions. For ½ pints, it is 10 minutes, for larger canning jars it will be 15 to 20 minutes. Make sure to process the jars for the correct amount of time. Take out of water bath and let cool. Any jars that do not seal tightly (still have the slight bulge in the middle of the lid) must be refrigerated, as they will spoil at room temperature. They can be stored in your fridge for up to a month or so, if they last that long! I use these preserves in plain yogurt, on ice cream, on toast/bagels, or in smoothies. They also make a yummy glaze for BBQ. I have been known to eat it straight out of the jar for a “taste of summer” 🙂