First things first – peeling the peaches.
You have probably read online that peeling peaches is “so easy!” Martha says, “Just blanch and the skins slide right off!” Well that is only true if the peaches are ripe. This took me a couple of years to figure out. I have an impossibly slow learning curve and my memory is akin to a goldfish’s so for like 2-3 seasons I would curse Martha as I struggled to peel peaches.
Then last year I couldn’t deal with my peaches right away so they sat on my counter for a couple days. I blanched and low and behold the skins DID slip right off. Eureka! So, be sure you’re working with ripe peaches.
I snagged two pecks from Huffman Fruit Farm on Thursday and just started working with them this weekend. And I only made it through one peck. The rest are still ripening. You want them to give just a little when you squeeze them. If they’re still rock hard just let them sit on the counter. And don’t let them get overripe. Overripe fruit isn’t good for jam either. It’s a fine line but once you can walk it you’re golden.
Score the bottoms of your peaches, dunk in boiling water for a minute, and then plunk them into a bowl of ice water.
Once they’re cool enough use your paring knife to peel them over your compost bucket (And if you have chickens take the peels out to them. They’ll be very happy). Once the peaches are naked they oxidize (turn color) pretty quickly. So, I get another big bowl of water and add a couple tablespoons of bottled lemon juice. I use it as a holding tank for the skinned peaches.
Up first – Peach Vanilla Spread.
Kristen of Black Dog Acres has really, really good honey. Between her and Karen of Kountry Dreamer I have quite a honey stock pile going.
3 lbs of peaches + 1 lb honey + vanilla bean + juice & zest of one lemon.
This cooked on high heat – bubblin’ and boilin’ for quite a while. When the foam started to subside I used my potato masher to break up some of the bigger chunks of fruit.
This one is sooooooooo good. It is really one of my very favorites.
Then I did a Peach Jalapeno Jam.
Usually I put the stems and ribs of the peppers in cheesecloth, cook it with the jam, and then toss it. I couldn’t find my cheesecloth so I trashed the ribs but kept the seeds. I only used two jalapenos so this isn’t super spicy but it does have a slight after burn. Mmm….
Then the requisite boozy jam – Wild Turkey Peach Jam.
The bourbon is subtle and tasty. This is a good one too.
Then I took 2 lbs of peaches and 2 lbs of nectarines and mixed them with some sugar and lemon juice and stuck ’em in the fridge. I’ll let that macerate for like 2 days and then I’ll turn it into a kick ass stone fruit jam. I’m thinking of calling it Get Stoned Jam. Ha!
We’ll have to get her a Napoleon together soon and try to hatch some of these little guys.