I know that summer is long gone and buying good, fresh peaches is no longer an option for most of us. But I wanted to submit this recipe to Aimée’s (Under the High Chair) Virtual Jam Swap. What a fun way to showcase fresh fruit from around the country (world?) and how to preserve them in one of my favorite forms: homemade jam!
I like Apple Butter, but Peach Butter is my all-time favorite. It has some of the same flavors as the apple butter, but is so much richer and has a full body that apple butter just can’t touch! I make most of my jams with a reduced amount of sugar, using Stevia (a naturally sweet herb) to provide most of the sweetness. I have not been successful, however, canning with only Stevia and no sugar. The jam seems to need at least some sugar to help it gel properly and to provide some of the “sheen” that makes jam look so good. So I use a substantially reduced amount of sugar and a little Stevia (a little goes a LONG way).
Peach/Apple Butter are great, but much more time consuming than regular jam. With five kids running around making constant demands, I am not very good at stirring and watching a pot closely for hours at a time. So I make this jam in the crockpot. It takes a good long time – at least 12 hours, sometimes 24, depending on your crock-pot and how humid your house is. But if I only need to stir it every hour or two, that I can handle.
I use a large crock-pot, about 6 quarts to make this jam. I end up getting between 7 and 9 half-pint jars in the end. This will depend on how thick you like your peach butter and how full you fill your crock-pot. I used 25 peaches (almost 1 peck) for this batch. Free-stone peaches are much easier to work with than cling peaches, but since the peaches will be crushed, either variety will produce a great result. It just depends on how much you want to work to remove those pits!
Start with peeling your peaches: Bring a pot of water to a boil, reduce heat and maintain a slow simmer. Drop (carefully!) peaches into the boiling water for 30-60 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon to a large bowl of ice water. Let peaches sit in the cold water for a few minutes. The peels should come off easily now. Cut peaches in half and remove the pit. You can place the peach halves directly into your crock-pot, or slice/chop them a little so that you can pack even more peaches in the pot. I usually use the most sophisticated method of crushing the peach halves in my hand (freshly washed, of course).
Stir in your sweetener (sugar and/or Stevia) and some seasonings to taste: I like cinnamon, cloves and allspice.
Turn your crock-pot on low and cook with the lid OFF for 12-24 hours. Humidity will greatly affect how long it takes your peach butter to thicken. If your crock-pot begins to splatter (I don’t have a problem with this, but the low setting on my crock-pot seems REALLY low), you can place a splatter screen over the top, or put the lid on only partway.
Stir occasionally and enjoy the delicious smell all day long. When peaches become very soft and start to thicken, I use an immersion blender to make a smooth spread. You could also use a food processor or blender, but be careful as it is very hot.
Continue to cook until peach butter is thick. It will become a gorgeous caramel color, and a spoon drawn through the mixture will leave a trail. The exact consistency is up to your personal preference. Taste and adjust spices as desired.
If you are canning the peach butter, prepare your jars and lids and boiling bath. Fill jars to within 1/8″ of rim. Wipe rims of jars (or they won’t seal properly). Place lids on jars. Place jars in a boiling bath canner. Return water to a gentle boil and process 5 minutes. Cool on a towel on your kitchen counter for 24 hours. Check seal.
Peaches (about 25 for a large 5-6 qt crock-pot)
1-2 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ – ½ tsp ground cloves
1/8-1/4 tsp ground allspice
1 cup sugar
½ tsp powdered Stevia extract (or about 2-3 cups additional sugar)
Peel peaches (dip in boiling water for 30-60 seconds, then put into large bowl of ice water). Cut peaches in half and remove pits; slice peaches, if desired. Fill a crock pot with as many peaches as it will hold (leaving about 1” at the top). Stir in spices and sweeteners (proportions are for a large 5-6 quart crock pot). (NOTE: Start with a small amount of sugar/sweetener, as sweetness of peaches and personal tastes will vary. You can add more sweetener later, after the peach butter has reduced, if you want it sweeter) Set the crock pot on low or medium. Let it cook, without the lid, for 12-24 hours (cover with a splatter-guard if necessary). Stir occasionally.
When cooked and reduced, use an immersion blender to make a smooth peach butter (or leave it coarse, if preferred). Taste and adjust sweetness and spices. If butter gets too thick, add a little fruit juice. If mixture is still too thin, cook longer or transfer to a saucepan and gently boil (stirring constantly) until reduced.
Ladle hot mixture into jars, leaving 1/8” headspace. Wipe rims of jars. Place lids on jars.
Place in a boiling bath canner or steam canner. Return water to a gentle boil. Process 10 minutes. Cool on a towel on kitchen counter for 24 hours. Check seal.
Yield: 8-10 half-pint jars