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. 

Sriracha Potato Salad

May weather can be unpredictable in Wisconsin. Our days are either cool and rainy, warm and sunny, or in the case of one year in recent memory, full of snow. Fortunately this year we've had absolutely beautiful weather, so I've decided to declare Memorial Day the unofficial start of summer.

As we always do, we kicked off Memorial Day weekend with a visit to Brat Fest, which is a uniquely Wisconsin thing—a festival dedicated to bratwurst. Now a festival dedicated to brats in and of itself is amazing, but what I really love is that it's staffed by some incredible volunteers. Instead of being paid to work the event their salary goes to support over 100 local charities. With over 3,200 volunteers working the event for a combined total of 16,495 hours they raise a significant amount of money to help ensure our local charities can continue giving back to our community throughout the year.

We spent a good part of the weekend gorging ourselves on brats, soaking up some much needed sunshine, and listening to live music—although sadly we missed out on seeing our favorite 80s cover band, Cherry Pie and Travis Tritt. Baring the slight snafu with security who decided my keysmart posed a security risk, yet couldn't explain why they considered a set of keys a weapon and wouldn't let me enter the festival, a good time was had by all. Just don't tell anyone that I hid behind a horse trailer and pocketed my contraband keys—that's a secret for you, me, and the rest of the internet—no one else ever has to know.

Sunday morning after we had consumed more brat cakes (brats wrapped with pancakes) than any one person should in a single sitting, we headed home to pack up the car so little man and I could head off for Oklahoma to visit family. We left the husband behind, with a fridge stocked with enough beer, brats, and sriracha potato salad to feed a small army—or a hungry husband for a day or two, possibly more if he decides to enjoy the time off and play video games instead of doing yard work.

Speaking of sriracha potato salad, if you happen to be looking for a summer side dish to shake things up, this is my suggestion—it's a huge hit with my friends and family. Although if spicy isn't your thing, you might give our Creamy Summer Coleslaw or Loaded Potato Salad a try instead, you really can't go wrong with any of these summer side dishes.

Sriracha Potato Salad | Not Starving Yet

Ingredients


3 pounds red potatoes
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream
1 Tablespoon siraracha, or more to taste
⅛ teaspoon smoked paprika
¼ cup celery, finely diced
black pepper

top with:

scallions
 

Directions

 

  • Peel potatoes, cut them into ½ inch cubes, then place them in a saucepan full of cold water. Add two tablespoons of kosher salt, then bring the water to a boil. Let the potatoes cook for approximately 10 minutes, or until they are fork tender. Keep in mind that larger chunks of potato will take longer to cook, so you may need to increase the cook-time a bit to compensate if your cubes are larger than ½ inch. 
  • Once the potatoes have cooked transfer them to a bowl of ice water and allow them to cool. It's important that they cool completely before adding them to the dressing, if you add them while hot the dressing may separate and become oily.
  • In a large bowl combine mayonnaise, sour cream, siraracha, and smoked paprika. Mix well, then add the cooled potatoes, celery, and black pepper.
  • Allow the potato salad to chill for at least three hours, or over night for the best results. Before serving add additional siraracha to taste and top with scallions.
     

Notes
 


This potato salad is tasty just the way it's written, but if you want to dress it up some try adding some hard boiled egg, Vidalia onion, or bacon. This is one time I'll encourage you to mess with perfection.