Wednesday, August 20, 2014

It Started Off Bad

Peach Rum Sauce
It all started with yesterday, which I might point out was a good day. On Monday I picked the rest of the peaches on the tree and had about 15 pounds of them on my dining room table. Yesterday I decided I'd can one thing a day to reduce the pile somewhat, but not feel like I was spending all my time canning. So I made the above Peach Rum Sauce. Oh it tastes good. I used the Ball recipe, except I left out one cup of sugar. Really it didn't need it.

Before I went to bed I sliced up another batch of peaches for a slow cooker vanilla peach butter. When I got up in the morning it didn't smell right. It had burned. I've made slow cooker butters before and I'd never had that trouble. On closer inspection I saw my trouble. I make the butter by turning it to high for an hour or so to get it going. Then before going to bed I'm supposed to turn it to low. Well that never happened. So instead of wonderful goodness, I had a mess to clean up.

I figured I had enough to make one more batch of something from the peaches, but if I added something I might get two. I had seen a blackberry patch on one of my morning walks with lots of blackberries in it and I thought blackberry peach preserves sounded really good. So I took my morning walk with the dog. We jumped off the boardwalk to the tall weeds below. I let the dog off the leash so he could have fun. I went into the patch. What I found was a mass of moldy berries.

After braving all those nasty thorns - and boy do blackberries have vicious thorns - I found just one that was ripe and not moldy. What a waste of a bunch of blackberries. Not even the wild life got to eat them. If I lived close I think I'd go in and prune the brambles in early summer so I could harvest regularly. However it is about a mile from my house, so I'll just regret the waste of good berries. At least the dog had a blast running around the area and rolling in the wet weeds.

Back home I decided I'd just make some plain chunky peach butter/preserves. It really is half way between them. A preserve like this won't hold together like a jam does. Jams need sugar, acid, and pectin to set and I was lacking the sugar. So the results are very soft, almost like a butter except for the chunks. I don't really use a recipe for something like this. I wanted just peaches at this point. No vanilla, no blackberries - well OK maybe I wanted the blackberries but I was going to make it plain. Not even some lemon juice. And very very little sugar. Each cup it made has less than a tablespoon of added sugar. I wanted something I could eat that I didn't have to think about how bad it was for me (like a jam which is pretty much flavored sugar). I really am trying to cut my sugar down and I've done a pretty good job.

There are several ways to make preserves. 1. You can just chop up the fruit and boil it down. 2. You can do the really slow way, which is to heat it up for 5-15 minutes and then let it sit and cool down. Repeat until it is thick enough for you liking. 3. And the last way, the one that I used, is to macerate the fruit and the strain it out. Boil down the liquid fast to 220F. Add the fruit back in and cook for a short time until it is ready.

The last method keeps more of the nutrients of the fruit as it isn't hot as long. It also preserves the shape of the fruit more. But I wasn't after the last one. After adding the fruit I used a stick blender for just a couple of whizzes. I didn't want big chunks as I wanted to be able to eat it with almond butter (I miss peanut butter but sadly it is a legume) on a sandwich. I also had to modify the first step of macerating the fruit. Usually you just pour sugar over the fruit and the liquid comes out. I only used a 1/4 cup of sugar for the whole thing. That wouldn't work. So I poured the sugar over it and heated it up to boiling. That got the juices to start flowing. Then I scooped out the fruit. As more liquid came out of the fruit I continued to add it to the boiling pot. I think it worked pretty well. And it tastes delicious. Much more tart than a typical preserve, but full of peach flavor. Yum.

At least the end of the morning was better than the start. Each of the four jars pinged as soon as they got out of the hot water. I don't think anyone who cans can keep from smiling when she hears that sound. Oh and that last jar with the black lid is for the fridge. I'm going to have that sandwich for lunch tomorrow. As for the peaches. I have sixteen left on the counter. I want to eat the last of them fresh. I'm hoping they last for 4 days as I've been eating about 4 a day. One in the morning in my smoothie. And three in the afternoon for a snack. No matter how good peach preserves are, they don't beat a fresh ripe dripping peach.


  1. What a shame about blackberries and burned peaches, but glad you got to do the preserves for winter.

  2. Those preserves look amazing - it must be great to simply say "I'm going to can this tomorrow" and then just do it without a second thought. I'm hoping to can some crushed tomatoes, but I'm taking a while to get going as I keep looking this up and looking that up before I actually get down to business...I'm paranoid I will mess up but at some point I will have to stop reading and start doing.

  3. So sorry you burned your peach butter. Forgetting to turn down the crock pot sounds like something that I would do! The rest of your things look yummy. Nancy

  4. Thanks for the lovely story, your pics of the peach preserves make my mouth water!