I have been wanting to try home preserving for years now but never quite got around to it. For me, there’s this mystique around canning and preserving, the equipment, the possibility of poisoning oneself and well, just it being big project to undertake. So when the September Daring Cooks challenge was announced, I was thrilled!
The September 2010 Daring Cooks’ challenge was hosted by John of Eat4Fun. John chose to challenge The Daring Cooks to learn about food preservation, mainly in the form of canning and freezing. He challenged everyone to make a recipe and preserve it. John’s source for food preservation information was from The National Center for Home Food Preservation.
The first part of the project was getting all the gear. The challenge (and other sources) listed ways you could do a home preserving product without buying all the gear, but the gear specifically made for the tasks seemed like it would make the job so much easier. So I sprang for a canning kit (about $12) and a boiling water canner ($24). Regardless of any other gear you may be inclined to purchase, you must get the canning jars and lids. These ran just over a dollar each. The good part of making the investment is that it made the job easier and I know I will definitely be doing more canning projects.
The challenge called for making an apple butter, but since it’s not quite Fall yet and we have beautiful summer peaches in abundance, I decided to make peach butter instead. I found a variation on the traditional peach butter which used a less sugar and added amaretto. I thought it sounded delicious so off I went.
Recipe Source: Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving
Yield: 4 pint jars
- 4-1/2 pounds peaches, peeled, pitted and coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 lemon, zested and juiced
- 3 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup amaretto
In a large stainless steel saucepan, combine peaches, water and lemon zest and juice. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring occasionally, until peaches are soft, about 20 minutes.
Working in batches, transfer peach mixture to a food mill or a food processor fitted with a metal blade and puree just until a uniform texture is achieved. You can also use an immersion blender which is what I did. It made the job super easy. Do not liquefy. Measure 8 cups of peach puree.
In a clean large stainless steel saucepan, combine peach puree and sugar. Stir until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently.
Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring frequently, until mixture thickens. This should take about 30 minutes to an hour.
When butter has begun to thicken but doesn’t quite mound on a spoon, add the amaretto and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until mixture mounds on a spoon.
To test the butter’s doneness, put a small spoonful on a chilled plate. If liquid pools around the mound of butter (as it does on the left side), it’s not done. If the mound stays together (as it does on the right side), you’re ready to go.
Meanwhile, prepare canner, jars and lids. If you’ve not canned before please refer to the National Center for Home Food Preservation or other technical resource for safe canning advice and instructions.
Ladle hot butter into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary, by adding hot butter.
Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip-tight.
Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water. Bring to a boil and process for 10 minutes.
Remove canner lid. Wait 5 minutes, then remove jars, cool and store.
This recipe was supposed to make 8 cups of peach puree and four pint sized jars of peach butter. Mine only made 6 cups of puree (I adjusted the sugar and amaretto accordingly) and yielded two pint sized jars. I’m not sure if I let the butter cook down too much or what, but I was pleased with the end result – just wished I had made more.
My peach puree took about an hour and a half to reduce as opposed to the 30 minutes to an hour the recipe called for.
In the end, I’m not sure the amaretto really added any noticeable difference to the peach butter. So I would probably leave it out next time.