In case you haven’t noticed, it’s peach season. Quite frankly, at this point in the year it’s pretty hard to miss. There seem to be piles of them everywhere, even here in California. Aside from eating them fresh out of hand, I’ve already posted about grilled peaches and peaches and biscuits (both really good, if I do say so myself). But now that the peaches are getting even sweeter, it’s time to make peach preserves.
So what’s the difference between peach jam, peach jelly and peach preserves (how do I know you have these burning questions rolling around in your brain)? Here goes….for jam, the fruit is either crushed or a pulp. For jelly, the fruit is in liquid form. For preserves, the fruit is in the form of chunks. Basically fruit preserves allow you to actually see what fruit the mixture is made from. The term preserves, for this post, has nothing to do with preserving or canning. In fact, this batch is small enough to make one jar that you can use for the summer. Although, you could make it bigger and preserve/can it if you’d like.
I like making peach preserves because they are easy and take very little time to make up. The peaches are already really sweet, so they don’t require a lot of sugar, and peaches have loads of natural pectin in them, which means you don’t have to go through trying to figure out which type of pectin to buy or how much to use…peaches thicken up all on their own when you cook them.
You may be wondering why this picture is of basil, stuffed in a jelly jar, with a peach on top. Well, remember that post I recently did about all the fresh basil I have piling up in my house? Yes, there’s basil in these fruit preserves. And there’s vanilla in there too. Not to worry, both flavors are very subtle. This is definitely a jar of peach preserves…there’s no mistaking that.
While you can make preserves (or jams and jellies) year round, using summer fruits gives you the best results. Of course, summer fruits at their prime (in July and August) because they are in season, but this also means that they are also at the peak of sweetness. When you use less granulated sugar, and rely on the fruits natural sugars, you get more of that great fruit flavor in the end product. It can make your toast or muffins taste like you spread it with fruit picked right off the tree. (Other summer fruits perfect for working with right now are raspberries, blackberries, blueberries and cherries.)
When I handed these peach preserves slathered English muffins to Craig for breakfast the other morning, I was met with a smirk and snarky comment. Of course I had envisioned him taking one bite of this peachy goodness…hearing him proclaim his love for both me and my culinary skills and having it followed up with him offering anything my heart desired. And then I woke up. What I got instead was…why are you greeting me with breakfast? What did you do, where did you buy this peach jelly and is there more of it or is this it? Thanks honey, I love you too. Next time don’t be surprised if I spike your morning coffee with something a little “special.” Ah love….ain’t it special?
But on a more serious note. Making peach preserves is probably one of the best fresh peach recipes you can make. So make some. Now!!! If you want to actually preserve/can your summer fruits (in all of their various forms) I recommend that you visit my friend Cathy Barrow’s site: Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Kitchen. She is the be-all end-all canning and preserving queen. She contributes to such publications as the NY Times regarding the topic of canning and preserving and is an all around expert in the topic.
What’s old is new again.
Recipe: Fresh Peach Recipes: Peach Preserves
Summary: Makes approximately 1 1/2 Cups
- 1 1/2 Pounds Peaches
- 1/2 – 3/4 Pound Sugar
- 2 Tablespoons Fresh Lemon Juice
- 1 Teaspoon Vanilla
- 1/4 Cup (Packed) Basil Leaves
- Pit, peel and roughly chop the peaches (I’ll tell you an easy way to peel them in the Notes).
- Add the chopped peaches, sugar, lemon juice and vanilla to a non-reactive pan.
- Stir to combine and let sit for 1 – 2 hours. (Stir occasionally during that time.) This allows all of the flavors to combine and the peaches release lots of their juices.
- Bring everything to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium high. Keep an eye on things (and stir) because it will foam up on you.
- Keep stirring to keep things from sticking to the bottom of the pan and ultimately burning.
- Continue cooking the mixture until it gets to the consistency you desire. Remember, it will thicken even more after it cools. (FYI…if you take it off of the heat and it’s thinner than what you would like you can go ahead and re-heat it and get it where you want it.)
- Once you remove it from the heat, add in the basil leaves and stir them in so that they are well combined in the mixture.
- Once the mixture has cooled, to room temperature, you can remove the basil and pour it into a lidded jar.
- These peach preserves should last, refrigerated, through the summer or until you eat it all up.
The amount of sugar you use depends on how your peaches taste. Give them a taste and see how much sugar you want to add.
To easily peel those peaches, you want to quickly blanch them. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the peaches to the water and gently turn them (with tongs or some kind of non-poking utensil) for 20 seconds. Remove them from the water. Once they are cooled enough to handle, gently peel of the skin with your hands. It will probably come off all in one piece.
Ginger is another great pairing for peaches. If you don’t want to use basil in this recipe, you could add 2 or 3 1/4″ slices of fresh (peeled) ginger to the pot while cooks. You could leave these in the preserves until you finish them or remove them before you jar them up.
Preparation time: 4 hour(s) 20 minute(s)
Cooking time: 25 minute(s)
Diet type: Vegan
Diet tags: Gluten free
Number of servings (yield): 1
Culinary tradition: USA (Traditional)
Welcome to My Man's Belly! Leave me a comment and let me know what you think about the site or if there's a recipe you'd like to see here. Have a great day.