Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Honey Vanilla Peach Butter

I have actually spent most of my life as a peach hater.  I never understood those people who talked about the best part of summer being the ripe peaches eaten out-of-hand as the juices dripped down their chins.  Maybe it was the fuzzy skins that turned me off.  It wasn't the big pit you had to eat around- I absolutely love plums.  They smelled fine enough, I guess, so it wasn't that.  Other than the color (which I confess I found slightly odd), I really have no idea why I didn't like peaches.  Maybe because my sister liked them and I couldn't possible liked something that she did, right?  I know we all have a sister (or brother) like that.  Oh, and I vaguely remember some incident in my high school cafeteria when a cup of peaches became a flying projectile and I was the target.  Blech!
I'm not going to count my college days, when fuzzy navels were my drink of choice for a while.  I'll chalk that up to poor taste and having very little money to spend on good wine and beer.  Besides, peach schnapps doesn't really taste much like peaches does it?
I can't really say that I had some epiphany moment when the beauty of a ripe peach became something I couldn't live without.  Maybe I've just grown into it.  Perhaps it's because I no longer feel the need to be the complete opposite of my sister (who I've also grown to love and appreciate).  I've certainly gotten over walking around high school for a day smelling like canned peaches.  I think.

I suppose being part of a  CSA who's organizer is a stone fruit farmer hasn't hurt.  These past two summers I've gotten to know and appreciate many types of stone fruit- the aprium, nectarine, peaches (both yellow and white, round and flat) and my absolute favorite- the pluot.  Last summer, when an abundance of peaches overwhelmed my countertop, I made peach salsa.  This year the 10 lbs of peaches I got became beautiful jars of honey vanilla peach butter and a lively and spicy peach BBQ sauce.
Honey Vanilla Peach Butter
Makes 2 pints.  Adapted, only slightly, from Nutmeg Nanny's recipe.
For a printable version, click here.

Feel free to play with the amount of sugar and honey to suit your taste and the ripeness of your peaches.  Mine were almost overripe, so I held back on adding more sugar.  You can preserve the peach butter by boiling the jars in a hot water bath for 10 minutes or simply refrigerate the jars when the peach butter has cooled.

5 lbs ripe peaches (about 12), peeled, pitted and coarsely chopped
1/3 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup honey
1 vanilla bean

In a large, heavy bottomed pot, combine the peaches and water.  Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes.  The peaches should be very, very soft.  Blend the peaches until smooth in batches and return them to the pot or blend in the pot with an immersion blender.

Add the sugar and honey to the pot.  Split the vanilla bean in half and with the back of your knife, scrape the seeds from the pod.  Add the seeds to the peach mixture and stir in the pod as well.  Bring the mixture to a boil, then turn the heat down to medium low and simmer.  Cook the peach butter, stirring often so that the bottom doesn't scorch, until very thick (about 25-30 minutes).  Remove the vanilla pod.  You can rinse and dry the pod and add it to a jar of sugar to make vanilla scented sugar (great in tea!).  Spoon the hot peach butter into two very clean pint jars and either can or refrigerate according to the directions above.  Once opened, the butter will keep in the refrigerator for several weeks.

Serve the peach butter over anything breakfast-y such as waffles, pancakes, toast or scones.

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