Wednesday, June 25, 2014

How about having summer all winter long?

Oh, that's a beautiful sight now, isn't it?  Fresh, local peaches.  Guess what?  The peaches are starting to be freestone.  This means that when you slice the fruit in half, the stone comes out easily.  In other words, it's a lot easier to cook with them.  As the peaches start to come in, you should save as many as you can.  That way, you can taste summer peaches when we're huddled up in January and February.  There's lots of ways to do this, so let's go over a couple of them.

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The easiest thing to do is can halved peaches.  Come winter, we'll use them to make a classic peach pie.  But first, you'll need to skin the fruit.  This is pretty simple.  Get a pot of water boiling, and fill a large bowl with ice water.  On each fruit, make a very shallow "X" on the bottom of the fruit.  Immerse the peaches in boiling water for 90-120 seconds, then promptly move to the ice bath.  When it's cool enough to handle, the skin will easily slip off.  Cut them in halves and/or quarters, removing the stones.

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In a previous post, we went over how to prepare jars for canning.  Once you've done that, simply arrange the peach sections in the jars.  Peaches are generally preserved in syrup.  The heavier the syrup, the sweeter the peaches will be.  A light syrup would be 1/2 cup of sugar per 2 cups water.  At the heavy end, you could use as much as a cup and a half of sugar.  (To get that much sugar to dissolve, you'll likely have to boil the water.)  Feel free to spice the syrup if you'd like.  Cinnamon, anise, and nutmeg all are great options for peaches.  Simply pour the syrup into the jars over the peaches, making sure they're all submerged.  Leave about half an inch of air space at the top of the jar.  Make sure there are no air bubbles by tapping the jars on the counter.  Seal the lids on the jars, and immerse them in boiling water for 25 minutes.  They need to cool gradually.  The easiest thing is just turn off the burner and let them sit in the water overnight.

Peach butter is another great thing to have over the winter.  In some of your jars, try adding a teaspoon of bourbon or amaretto per pint.  You'll be glad you did!

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