I have just started the peach butter.
Peaches aren’t exactly local to Ottawa. We’ve got plums and pears for sure, but peaches aren’t nearly cold-hardy enough to pop up regularly. (Mind you, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a Reliance or maybe (maybe) a Harrow Beauty – or a Harcot or Goldcot appricot tree, for that matter – growing in a sheltered back yard somewhere around here).
None the less, they are very, very prevalent in Niagara and so I’ve been taking advantage of their being shipped into the rest of the province just now.
I didn’t make much of anything with peaches last year (well, that’s not quite true…) and I was more than a little sad about it. Plus, honestly, I love mangoes to bits and find that peaches, apricots, and nectarines can all, to some degree or other, be substituted for mango in recipes that I’m trying to make more local-foody.
Thense my recent Tomato-Peach salsa (I like the peach-mango salsa from PC, and I thought I’d try making something along those lines of my own) and the spicy peach-apricot chutney (inspired by variou mango chutneys I’ve enjoyed in the past) that I made last year.
The peach butter that I’m making today, however, is like yesterday’s Balsamic Peach pickles: Purely done in the interest of making something deliciously peachy so that when winter hits we’ve got a taste of summer to serve up.
(I actually have a little bit of the pickling solution left over from the peach pickles, and I think it’s going to be a glaze for some pork sausages or something. It’s way too tasty to pass up. 😉
So. Peach Butter.
Like apple butter (and pear butter and even tomato butter, which I’m sorely tempted to try), Peach Butter is somewhere between “jam” and “sauce”. It has a much lower sugar content than jam – rather than 1:1, it’s somewhat closer to… 1:8 (or even 1:12) sugar to fruit. (I based my sugar:fruit ratio on this recipe from Food In Jars, by the way). If you’re avoiding processed sugars, fruit butters can be a good way to go, and they’re thick-and-sticky enough that they can work as a binder (sort of) in vegan recipes.
I’m making my peach butter in a crock pot – because I can just set it up, leave the lid a bit askew to let the steam escape, and let it do its thing without worrying about anything scorching – and expect to get about 3C of butter from 6C pureed peaches by the end of the day.
My recipe for Peach Butter is as follows:
6 C purreed peaches (pitted, but peels included)
1/2 C granulated sugar
1/4 C pear cider vinegar (any mild vinegar will do, mind you)
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract (amaretto, bourbon, dark rum, or tripple sec would work here, as well)
1/2 tsp each: nutmeg, ginger
1) Pit and dice the peaches
2) Throw them in a food processor if you want a particularly smooth butter (which I do)
3) Once you have six cups of purree, throw the peaches, and all the other ingredients, into a slow cooker
4) Stir briefly (until well-mixed)
5) Plug in the slow-cooker and set it on “low”, leaving the lid slightly askew (or propped open with a wooden spoon) to allow the steam to escape
6) Let it do its thing for 8-12 hours
7) Use a drink-mixer (hand-blender, imersion blender, whatever you want to call it) to further purree the butter once it’s cooked
8) Sterilize your jars (I am using three 1C jars) in a steam bath
9) Scoop the butter into the sterlized jars using a wide-mouth funnel
10) Process, upside down, in a boiling-water/steam bath for 20 minutes
You can serve this stuff on toast or crepes, mix it into yoghurt for a simple breakfast/snack, bake it into coffee cake, layer it with custard in a trifle… or you can spread it over chicken with a little black pepper (as a savoury rub for the BBQ), offer it as a dip/spread with a cheese plate, or throw it into a crock pot with a few other goodies (fresh chopped tomatoes, a fig compote, whatever) in order to add flavour (and fruit/veggies) to pulled pork or some other slow-cooked delicacy.
And there you have it.
Tomorrow, I’m going to try making apple butter using the fallen apples from two local trees – one around the corner from me (probably a relative of McIntosh, going by the colour if nothing else) and one from up in the Glebe near Fifth Avenue (round, yellow apples, no idea what variety). I’ll be using basically the same recipe as I used for the peach butter, but may include a full 1/4 C of maple syrup and will be using cinamon and cloves for the spices. Come October, I’ll probably do the same thing with pumpkin, just to see if I can. 😉
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 While you boil the liquid off, which means the concentration of fruit sugar goes up as it cook, I still took a bit of a precaution and added a quarter cup of pear-cider vinegar to my mix in the interest of lowering the pH a little.
 Which is about… 12-15 large peaches… I used 8 small peaches and 8 large peaches, which is what I had available.
 Butter needs to be processed for a lot longer than jam – probably because of the higher pH (though I’m guessing on that one).