Vanilla Bean Infused Peach Slices #fijchallenge #CanItForward

Just shortly after I returned from Ireland a friend let me in on a little secret: There were some excellent blueberries to be had in town and if I was lucky the person selling them may just have some plump Georgia pecans too. Unfortunately by the time I managed to get out the door the pecans were all gone, but I lucked out and in addition to my blueberries I was able to bring home a bushel of over-ripe Georgia peaches for half off. Never one to pass up a deal, especially on peaches, I happily handed over my hard earned money and spent the next few days finding creative ways to preserve them.

And then I ran out of steam... What was I thinking buying 48 pounds of peaches?

After making two cases of pie filling in a variety of flavors and playing around with a new flavor of peach applesauce I decided to cut my creative endeavors short. Everything I had left got sliced up and preserved with a vanilla bean infused syrup, which just may be one of the simplest ways to preserve peaches. 

Vanilla Bean Infused Peach Slices | Not Starving Yet

Vanilla Bean Infused Peaches


makes 9 pints


Ingredients

6½ cups water
¾ cup sugar
4½ vanilla beans, cut in half and sliced down the center (see notes)
11 pounds yellow peaches
Lots of ice, to help with peeling

Directions

  • Before beginning, sterilize your jars and rings in the dishwasher. As per the new canning guidelines lids no longer need to be sterilized if they'll be in the water bath for more than 10 minutes.
  • Prepare a light syrup made of water and sugar in a large saucepan, bring the mixture to a boil, and stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the vanilla beans to the hot syrup, turn off the heat, and allow the vanilla beans to infuse while you peel your peaches.
  • Dip the peaches in a large pot of boiling water for 30 - 60 seconds, or until the skins start to loosen. Quickly drop the peaches in a bowl of ice water and slip the skins off. Cut the peaches in half, remove the pit, then slice into equal-sized pieces. 
  • Add the peach slices to the sugar syrup and bring to a boil. Fill your sterilized jars with fruit and a slice of vanilla bean. Once the jars are full add syrup, making sure to leave ½ inch headspace at the top of the jar. 
  • Tap the jars gently to remove any air bubbles that may have become trapped, wipe the rims of the jars to remove any access syrup, then add a new canning lid. Make sure to tighten the ring securely before placing the jars in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes (pint jars) or 25 minutes (quart jars.)
  • Remove the jars from the water bath and set them on a dish towel to cool. After the jars have cooled completely check the seals and refrigerate any jars that do not have a good seal.

Notes

I have occasionally run out of syrup when canning peaches, but it's easy to make more as needed without making up a full batch of syrup. 1 cup of water, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and ½ a vanilla bean is usually enough to fill the last jar should you run out. Any extra syrup can be refrigerated and used later, as long as you remember to bring the refrigerated syrup to a full boil.

If you want to put up a large amount of peaches I suggest trying to find the freestone variety, the pits practically fall out when you cut the peaches in half which saves a surprising amount of time. 

No Fuss Crock-Pot Apricot Butter

This week while I was out shopping I really hit the jackpot. I came across seven pounds of less than perfect apricots that the manager had marked down. I snapped up every last one of them, knowing I would come up with something tasty to make. I toyed around with the idea of making jam or jelly, but with a toddler running around I knew the chances were good that I wouldn't have the time to keep a proper eye on it. Not wanting to run the risk of ruining 7 pounds of precious apricots I decided to make apricot butter instead.

Fruit butter recipes are perfect for when you don't have the time to keep a close eye on what you're cooking. They're also great for first time canners since they're pretty well impossible to mess up. You just peel your fruit, toss it in the crock pot with a handful of other ingredients, and let it cook down for 8 - 10 hours. The end result is a wonderfully smooth spread that is perfect for adding to toast, oatmeal, or yogurt for a quick breakfast in the morning.

ApricotButter.jpg

Apricot Butter
makes 7 half-pints

Ingredients

7 lbs Apricots
¼ teaspoon cloves
1 vanilla bean
1 small lemon, juiced and zested
1 cup granulated sugar

Equipment

immersion blender (optional)
water-bath canner or stock pot with lifter
7 half pint canning jars with lids and rings
jar grabber
magnetic lid lifter
funnel
butter knife
ladle
clean dish towels and cloths 

Directions

  • Remove the skins from the apricots. Boil a large pot of water, add apricots, and blanch for 1 minute, or until skins start to crack. Depending on the size of your pot you may need to work in batches. 
  • Transfer blanched apricots to cold water and once cool the skins should easily peel off. Remove pits and skins, then place in crock pot. 
  • Open vanilla bean pod with a knife and scrape the insides into the crockpot. Once insides are removed, toss the entire pod in with the apricots.
  • Cover with lemon juice, add lemon zest, and cook on low for 8 - 10 hours. Make sure to leave the lid partially off to allow the steam to escape. 
  • After 8 hours the contents of the crock pot should have reduced roughly in half, if they have not you can continue to cook the apricots down until they have reached the desired consistency. 
  • Remove vanilla bean pod, add sugar and cloves, and stir until well incorporated.
  • Fill hot canning jars and process using the water bath canning directions below.

Processing times for this recipe

are 15 minutes for elevations of 0-1,000 ft and 20 minutes for elevations of 1,001-6,000 ft. These times are for quarter-pints, half-pints and pints only.

  • Before canning sterilize your canning jars, rings, potato masher, and any other equipment that will come into contact with the apricot butter. You can do this easily by putting everything in the dishwasher and running it. Just don't put your equipment in with dirty dishes.
  • While your jars are sterilizing fill your stock pot with water and let it boil. It takes awhile for a large pot of water to boil, so keep this in mind. You don't want to fill your jars before your water is ready.
  • Once you're ready to fill your jars, place a sauce pan on the stove. Add your canning lids and fill pan with several inches of water. Bring the water to a simmer and allow the sealing wax on the lids to soften for several minutes.
  • Fill sterilized jars with hot apricot butter leaving 1/2 inch head space at the top. Remove air bubbles with a knife, wipe the rims with a clean damp rag, place lids on top and fasten ring until finger tight.
  • Place sealed jars on a rack in the canner or stock pot. Make sure jars are covered with water and that the waterline is about an inch over the top of the jars, then cover pot with lid.

You do not want the jars coming into contact with the bottom of the canner or stock pot because they will bounce around and likely break.

  • Process half pints and pints for 15 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Time starts once the water has come to a complete boil again. You may need to add boiling water to keep the water level up as the jars are processing.
  • Remove jars from canner, set on a clean dish towel, and let them rest for several hours until cool. You should hear a popping sound as the lids seal. 

 

  • To check the seals of your jars press the center gently with your finger. If it moves up and down the jar is not sealed. You can either reprocess using a new lid never reuse an old lid or once the jar is cool, eat the apricot butter. You know you want to and you deserve the treat after such hard work!
  • Label with detailed contents and date, then store in a cool, dark, and dry place.

Other Notes

This recipe works with peaches too, or even a mix of apricots and peaches. 

If you aren't happy with the texture of your butter try using an immersion blender to create a smoother texture.