The dishwasher is broken. The piles of drying silverware on the counter are unsettling, and the dishes soaking in the sink make me shiver. I like neat counters, clean cooking spaces (my mother might disagree, seeing as she sometimes refers to me as "The White Tornado", due to my tendency to pile things on every open space). But I must bake. It is an insatiable urge that leaves me fidgety when unfulfilled.
As I was cleaning out the freezer to make room for another Momofuku monstrosity (fear not, it will be posted soon), I discovered about four pounds of last season's peaches were no way going to fit back in the freezer. And as you may know, peaches do NOT go to waste under my watch. But what to make...
I'm not exactly sure how I settled on peach butter. Perhaps because it's quite portable, and I needed to show my new co-workers that I do indeed cook, I'm not just bluffing. In the process, I learned how to can things. And I didn't even give anyone botulism in the process! It's comforting I can now prepare food that will keep indefinitely. Y'know, to survive the oncoming zombie apocalypse.
You need someone on which to spread all that delicious, peachy goodness. Buttermilk biscuits are a fine choice, and they come together pretty much instantly.
adapted slightly from smitten kitchen
4 lbs peaches
1 cup water (Note - since my peaches were frozen, they didn't need water....use your judgment)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup vanilla sugar (If you don't have this, no worries, just use more normal sugar)
a splash of amaretto
Before doing anything, decide if you're canning or not! Or you aren't, the peach butter will stay in the fridge for two weeks. If you are, it'll be good forever.
Canning prep: First, sterilize your jars, either by boiling them in a large, deep pot of water (which should cover the jars completely) for 10 minutes or washing them in lots of hot soapy water, rinsing and drying the parts well and then place the jars only in a 200 degree oven for 20 minutes. Set them aside.
If your peaches aren't already peeled, cut a small x in the bottom of each (unless they're already sliced) and dip them in boiling water for 30 seconds. Immediately transfer to cold water; the skins should slip right off. Place peach chunks and water in a large pot and bring to a boil. Simmer until peaches are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure they cook evenly. If you like your peach butter smooth (I do), puree them in a blender or food processor, then return to the pot. Add the sugar and amaretto and bring the mixture to a good strong simmer/gentle boil, cooking them at this level for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally in the beginning and more often near the end, as it thickens up and the fruit masses risk scorching on the bottom of the pot.
There are several methods to test for doneness: You can drizzle a ribbon of sauce across the surface; when that ribbon holds its shape before dissolve into the pot, it is done. Some people use cold or frozen plates; dollop a spoonful in the middle of one and if no water forms a ring around it in a couple minutes, it is done. Others use a spoon; if the butter remains rounded on a spoon for two minutes, it is done. You can also check the pot itself; the butter is usually done when a wooden spoon leaves a clear train when scraped across the bottom.
If you aren't canning the peach butter, let it cool before storing it in the fridge. If you are...
Divide your piping hot peach butter between your jars, leaving a little room at the top. Wipe the rims clean with a dry towel and cover the jars with their lids. Submerge the jars in a large, deep pot of boiling water for 10 minutes, either in a removable basket or using tongs to dip and remove them. Let cool completely on towels, a process that can take overnight. If canned properly, the peach butter should last indefinitely at room temperature.
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the board
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder (use one without aluminum)
1 teaspoon kosher salt or 1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, very cold
1 cup buttermilk (approx)