Every year, my friend Nicole and I spend a day canning peaches. We’ve been making peaches in honey syrup for the last five years and last year we also added ginger bourbon peaches to the mix. This year, however, we opted to make some peach butter.
Peach butter, and other fruit butters, are simply fruit cooked down until it’s a spreadable consistency. Apples and pears also make nice fruit butter.
Here’s a basic peach butter recipe from Bernardin. Notice how you add water and then have to boil off all the liquid. You can save a step, if you happen to own a slow cooker. I just toss the peeled, chopped peaches in the slow cooker in the lid off. It takes longer, but if you happen to be doing other things (like peeling and canning 30 + pounds of peaches), it’s nice not to have to worry about burning the butter. If it’s not thickening fast enough for you, you can easily cook it on the stove.
Some peach butter recipes also add a bit of cinnamon or nutmeg. I rather like it plain. Or, for a special treat, with a splash of dark rum or bourbon. (About 1 tsp per 125 mL jar.)
We also cut back the amount of sugar used in the recipe, as the ratios in the Bernardin recipe above are too sweet for me. We simply sweetened to taste with sugar and honey. While I wouldn’t recommend altering the amount of sugar in a jam or jelly recipe because it affects the gelling, the sugar is not crucial for maintaining the texture of the peach butter. I also don’t recommend altering recipes if you’re new to canning, because you want to make sure that your food is safe to can. However, the National Center for Home Food Preservation, a very reputable site, does note that sugar improves the flavour and helps stabilize the colour of canned fruits, but it is safe to preserve without sugar (or with less sugar).
Yours in food,