I was busy doing all the things last week, but I’m back! We went camping out of town two weekends ago, so last week I did what I would usually save for weekends: mowing our ridiculous lawn (or about half of it), weeding the untamed beds (I can see our okra plants now!), and chicken maintenance, especially trying to get them in their tractor so they can tear up said grass for us. All of these have been completed with varying levels of success and quickness, but they are done.
One of the other tasks I’ve been chugging away at has been processing copious amounts of fruit into jam and butter. At one market, the fruit vendor gave me a literal bushel of crabapples. (If you’ve never seen a bushel, it’s about the size of a medium moving box. It’s a lot of apples.) Thankfully, crabapples don’t have to be peeled or even cored to turn into butter – you just cook them, puree them, and cook them again with sugar and whatever seasonings you want. They turn into a delightfully smooth, tangy apple butter that I’m favoring over anything else I’ve canned with apples so far.
At another market, I bought a large basket full of peaches for a discount because they were bruised, overripe, or otherwise ugly, but perfectly edible and perfect for baking and making jam and butter. Unlike crabapples, however, peaches must be peeled and pitted before using, but thankfully, they’re a lot bigger, and I had a lot fewer of them to work with. Still, it took the better part of a day to process the whole basket.
So today, I’m giving you two recipes for the price of one: peach jam, and peach butter. What’s the difference, you ask? Peach jam generally uses more sugar, and needs a thickener, such as pectin, or a long cooking time with lemon juice (a smaller, less concentrated form of pectin), to form. Jam generally has chunks or larger pieces of fruit, is sweeter because of the higher sugar content, and retains more of the fresh fruit color.
Fruit butter, on the other hand, uses more of the fruit, and less sugar. It doesn’t need pectin or thickeners, but usually requires a longer cooking time, and is a smooth, homogenous product. It’s not as sweet as jam, but it retains more of the original fruit flavor, in my opinion, since it has more of the actual fruit in it.
I like both at different times and for different reasons, although anything that requires more of the fruit and less sugar usually tips the scales for me. Regardless, you’re getting both recipes today. You can make these as refrigerator jams (that is, keep the product in sealed containers in your fridge for a few weeks), or hot-water process them for longer canning preservation. If you need a refresher on basic canning directions, check out my Pickled Okra post.
One last note: I like to use powdered pectin for my jams, as it greatly reduces the amount of time and “cooked” flavor of the final product, but you can totally make peach jam without it – you’ll just need to cook it for longer and perhaps use more lemon juice to thicken it. Be sure to constantly stir that pot, lest ye be left with burned, crusted peaches at the bottom. Not fun.
Onwards to peachy goodness!
This recipe can easily be doubled, and sugar can be reduced or increased based on your personal tastes. Do not add the sugar before the powdered pectin, and only when the fruit is at a boil.
you will need:
- 4 c finely chopped or mashed (not liquified) pitted, peeled ripe peaches
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 50 g powdered pectin (about 5 tbsp), or one package
- 4 c granulated sugar, or to taste
- If hot-water processing, prepare your canner, jars, and lids.
- Combine peaches and lemon juice in a large saucepan. Whisk in and dissolve pectin. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently to prevent burning.
- Add in sugar all at once, stirring to combine. Bring the mixture back up to a hard boil (bubble bubble!), stirring constantly, and boil hard for 1 minute. Remove from heat, and skim off foam. (I didn’t do this, and it makes the final product, well, foamy at the top. Oops.)
- Ladle the jam into jars, cool, and refrigerate, or process via hot water canning method for 10 minutes, leaving ¼ inch headspace in jars, cool, and store.
This recipe can easily be doubled, and sugar can be reduced or increased based on your personal tastes. To test the doneness of fruit butter, place a small plate in the freezer before starting your butter. When you want to test, take the plate out, and place a small dollop of hot butter onto the plate. It is done when the liquid does not separate, and the mixture holds a spreadable shape when you pass a finger through it.
you will need:
- 4 ½ lbs pitted, peeled, and chopped ripe peaches
- ½ c water
- 2 tbsp lemon juice, plus zest of 1 lemon
- 3 c granulated sugar, or to taste
- Combine peaches, water, and lemon zest and juice in a large saucepan, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until peaches are soft. Depending on the ripeness of your peaches, this can take anywhere from 10-20 minutes.
- Puree the peach mixture. My preferred method of doing this is using an immersion blender, as I don’t have to worry about pureeing in batches and working with hot fruit in a blender, and there’s less of a chance of my liquefying the batch.. If using an immersion blender, puree (don’t liquefy) the peach mixture right in the saucepan until smooth. If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can puree the peaches in batches using a blender (be sure to leave the lid vent off and use a towel to allow for steam to escape), a food processor, or food mill. Pour puree back into the pot.
- If canning, prepare your canner, lids, and jars.
- Combine puree and sugar, and stir until the sugar dissolves. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to medium and allow to boil gently, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens to a butter-like consistency (see recipe note), about 10-15 minutes.
- Ladle the hot butter into jars, cool, and store in the refrigerator. Or, if canning, process via hot-water canning method for 10 minutes, leaving ¼ headspace in jars. Cool and store.