Tag Archives: peaches

August Adventures and a Summer Peach Dessert

I have been thinking bad thoughts about computers, technology and blogging lately. I know just enough (and no more) that when things go wrong, I can usually make things even worse before calling for reinforcements (ie  my teenagers). Even they were not able to fix everything, so I am still thinking some of those bad thoughts, but finally, I am at least able to do some posting (in a much more labor-intensive way that I usually do).

The last few weeks we have had a lot of fun family adventures, but I have not done much food picture taking. Today is just a quick look at what we have been up to and a delicious recipe to celebrate the end of summer!

Piano Recital for Big and Little A:


Little A’s Baptism!

Big J performed the baptism and Brian did the confirmation.

 

Big A’s 15th Birthday

What a lovely and amazing young woman she has grown into!

Whitewater Rafting Trip

Little J wishing she was big enough to go rafting!

Tubing, Skiing and Wakeboarding on Deep Creek Lake

These Peach Cobbler bars were a great way to end a fabulous summer. You can eat them warm topped with ice cream (although they will not cut very nicely warm), or let them cool and cut into squares.

RECIPE:

Peach Cobbler Bars

Dough:
3 cups flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla

Filling:
6 cups diced peaches (about 8 peaches)
2 Tbs lemon juice
½ cup flour
2/3 cup sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease a 9×13-inch baking pan.

Dough: In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Use a pastry blender to cut in the butter. Mix the egg and vanilla and then cut into the dough. The dough will be crumbly. Pat about 2/3 of the dough into the prepared pan. Place the pan and the remainder of the dough in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.

Filling: Place the diced peaches in a large bowl and sprinkle with lemon juice. Mix gently. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Pour over the peaches and mix gently.

Spread the peach mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble the remaining dough over the peach layer.

Bake for 45 minutes, or until the top is slightly brown.

Serve warm with ice cream (bars will not cut neatly while warm), or cool completely and cut into squares.

Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

 

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Low Sugar Peach Vanilla Jam

072610 026-1 Of the five jams that we made last week (maybe of all the jams I have ever made), this is my very favorite. Fresh ripe peaches and flecks of vanilla bean. And low in sugar. What could be better.

Try it mixed into some homemade yogurt, or on top of ice cream.

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It is still too early in the season here for freestone peaches, but there are some good deals at the farmers market on some luscious, ripe non-freestone varieties. And for jam, these are perfect!

072210 035-1 To quickly and easily remove the peach skin, blanch the peaches in simmering water for 15-30 seconds, then transfer to an ice water bath.

072210 041-1 When making jam, the easiest way to crush your peaches, especially non-freestone varieties, is to take the whole peeled peach in your hand (over a large bowl) and squeeze. If your peaches are ripe, which they should be for a good jam, the peach flesh will be crushed through your fingers, leaving you with just the pit in your hand. Kids love this job!

To get as much vanilla flavor in this jam as I could without overcooking the peaches, I combined the crushed peaches with some lemon juice, 1 cup sugar and 1/2 tsp stevia in a large bowl. Then I added the vanilla bean (cut the bean in half lengthwise, then use the tip of a knife to scrape all of the seeds into the bowl with the fruit); stir in both the seeds and the vanilla bean halves. Let peach mixture sit for 2-3 hours, or overnight (in the refrigerator).

Leave the vanilla bean in while cooking the jam, removing it just before filling your jars.

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I love vanilla bean flecks!

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RECIPE:

Low Sugar Peach Vanilla Jam

  • Servings: Makes 5-6 Half Pint Jars
  • Print

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5 cups crushed peaches (about 4 1b)
1 ¼ cups sugar, divided
½ tsp powdered stevia
2 Tbs lemon juice
1 vanilla bean
1 box low-sugar pectin

Combine peaches, 1 cup sugar, stevia and lemon juice in a large saucepan or bowl. Split vanilla in half lengthwise. Scrape seeds into bowl with peaches. Stir in vanilla bean. Let sit for 2-3 hours or overnight (refrigerate if leaving overnight).

Mix pectin with ¼ cup sugar. Stir into peach mixture. Bring to a hard boil (boiling doesn’t stop when stirred) over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring constantly, for 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat. Remove vanilla bean.

Ladle into jars, leaving 1/8” headspace. Wipe rims of jars. Place lids on jars.

Place jars 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: 5-6 half-pint jars

 

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Low-Sugar Peach Butter

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uthcjam2009I 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.

DSC01559I 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.

DSC02189Continue 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.

Enjoy!

RECIPE:

Peach Butter

  • Servings: Makes 7-9 half pint jars
  • Print

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Peaches (about 25 for a large 5-6 qt crock-pot)
1-2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 – 1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/8-1/4 tsp ground allspice
1 cup sugar
1/2 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

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