Whew! Mission accomplished!
For me, some food endeavors merit a great big, self-pronounced atta-girl once they're behind me.
When the peach orchard began producing in the spring and we saw that this year was going to be a watershed year where peaches were concerned, Peach Preserves, which I always consider to be a mammoth accomplishment, always were on my radar screen.
As I mention in Way Back in the Country Garden, my new cookbook, I consider Peach Preserves to be the absolute best thing that can be made from a personal peach harvest.
The recipe's not that difficult--the preparation simply involves a matter of settling in and simply getting it done. Boiling the jars, rounding up the lids and rings, peeling the peaches. The actual making of the preserves is a fairly short process compared to all the get-ready steps.
Hubby helped by being the Champeen Peach Peeler and making the grocery runs to buy some fresh lids for this year. He also helped remove the hot jars, once sterilized, to dry on clean towels spread out on the counter. That freed me to concentrate on the peach mixture.
What an absolute high I got when I finally began ladeling the preserves into jars and watch as the golden, thick syrupy mixture with giant peach chunks began settling itself into its new home in the clear jars on the countertop! Into the boiling water bath they went so the jars would seal. I never run out of excitement when I hear the telltale "click" of the jar lids as a sign that the sealing is successful. The jars then go on the pantry shelf for our dining enjoyment in the months ahead; I'll also give the best-looking ones as gifts.
One jar remained unsealed, of course. That's the one that went into our fridge so we could begin sampling this delicacy. We've already spread some on oven toast and on a few Fresh Peach Muffins, the recipe for which I've shared earlier. Tomorrow morning I intend to make some from-scratch biscuits (from Neta Welborn's recipe in the cookbook that Truett Welborn furnished me; I wrote about it in an earlier blog.)
Atta-girl for sure! The Peach Preserves are worth every bit of the effort--a gift that should keep on giving until the next spring.
8 cups peaches, peeled, pitted, and sliced (about 4 pounds)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 (3-ounce) package powdered pectin
7 cups sugar (although I usually use sugar substitute, for this recipe I use really sugar)
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
Combine peaches, lemon juice, and pectin in a large pot or Dutch oven. Bring to a rolling boil and stir gently. Add sugar and return to rolling boil. Boil hard for 1 minute; stir constantly. Remove from heat. Skim any foam. Add almond extract and mix. Pour into hot jars; leave 1/4-inch headspace. Adjust caps and process for 10 minutes in boiling-water bath. Makes about 6 12-ounce jars.