by Rachel Helmer
SFUSD Board Member
The delicious fruits of spring and summer are popping up everywhere. Overflowing in grocery store bins, scattering tables at farmers markets, and if you are lucky, hanging heavily from the branches of trees in your yard. Peaches are one of my favorites and their season seems so short that I like to capture all that sweet summer stone fruit deliciousness and preserve it to be enjoyed well past the sunshiny season. This recipe for peach preserve can be infused with anything you fancy! A few of my favorites are vanilla bean and lemongrass. Try one, or both and enjoy this peachy sweet preserve on yogurt, waffles, and muffins or incorporated into salad dressings and sauces all year long!
Infused Peach Butter
Approximately 6 lbs of peaches (or nectarines if you prefer)
3 cups sugar
4 lemongrass stalks, smashed and cut into chunks
2 vanilla beans, split open lengthwise and cut in half
½ cup water
3 tablespoons lemon juice
Making the butter
First you need to remove the skins from the peaches. To do this fill your largest pot 2/3 full with water and bring to a boil. While you are waiting for this to boil prepare an ice bath in a large bowl, again filling only 2/3 full with water. Once the pot of water is boiling plop as many peaches as you can fit into the bubbling pot and allow to simmer for 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon remove the peaches and add them immediately to the ice bath to cool for 2 minutes. Once the peaches have cooled you can easily remove their skins, just give the skin a pinch and it should peel off.
If you were unable to boil all of your peaches in the first batch repeat the process until all of your peaches have been simmered and skinned. Using your hands or a knife slice open the peach and remove the pit, cut away any bad spots on the fruit, slice the peach into a few different pieces and place the meat of the peach into a large bowl.
Add to this the sugar, gently combine and then cover the bowl to let the peaches sit and get nice and juicy for 1 ½ to 2 hours.
After a few hours have passed, strain the juice from the peaches into a large pot. Add to this your lemongrass chunks, vanilla bean, and water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and let simmer on low for 3o to 40 minutes or until the mixture thickens slightly. Turn off the heat and using a slotted spoon or a strainer remove the lemongrass from the syrup. Now you are ready to puree everything together. Using your blending machine of choice (vita mixer, blender, or if you have one an immersion blender right in the pot) blend the peaches and the syrup together until smooth.
Add this mixture and the lemon juice back to the pot (if it’s not already there). Stir and taste test, add more lemon juice and sugar if you like, and then cook on medium low until the mixture thickens to the consistency of baby food, about 30 to 40 minutes. If you don’t want to mess with the canning process you can store the peachy butter in containers and pop it in the refrigerator, just make sure you consume it within a few weeks. Otherwise you can proceed with your preferred method of canning and enjoy the peachy goodness all year long!