As summer nears its end I want to try pack in the things I enjoy for a few more weeks before they are over. Summer is cycling in the park and movies outside. Summer is kites and picnics, though I’ve done too few of either. Summer is the abundence of produce. Summer is fruity. I go to the farmer’s market and there are so many brightly colored, sweet fruit to choose from I don’t know where to start, its hard to believe that in a short while we’ll be reduced to apples again. Months of apples!
But anyway, for now there are still lots of fruit. And my favorite (since mangos are not available here in New York) are peaches. But for a peach to reach favoured fruit status it must be ripe, fragrant, juicy, sweet; the kind that leaves your arms totally sticky all the way to your elbows, so that you try to lick off the juice without looking like a crazy person! I was told recently that the way to choose good fruit was to follow the bees, and since I’m a fan of bees, I tried it, and it does seem to work, the market stall that I bought my peaches from was awash with the little critters and the peaches were overflowing with flavor! I remember reading Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach as a kid and so wishing I could join James where ”…the walls were wet and sticky, and peach juice was dripping from the ceiling. James opened his mouth and caught some of it on his tongue. It tasted delicious.” Though I have to admit if the giant bees were as big as the giant worm I’d be hard pressed to follow them to the peaches!
Of course, being a canner I’ve done my share of peach preserving so that when winter comes I will not actually be reduced to apple eating. This year I doubled the number of peach recipes I put up. I made a delicious peach chutney, I did some plain peaches and also the peaches in brandy from a NY Times recipe originally publised in 1930. And I made peach butter with lavendar…
A few weeks ago we got an email asking us if we’d be interested in receiving two books from Ashley English’s Homemade Living series: Keeping Chickens and Canning & Preserving. Her editor thought that given the homemaking going on here and the sustainable slant to innBrooklyn, that we would enjoy the books. And indeed, these are beautifully put together books, and the canning book in particular is a treasure for me (since my current living situation with only a fire escape and a front lawn, is unsuited to even the most well behaved of urban chickies). I love that the canning book is organised by season: its the obvious way to do it, and the real question is why all the other books are not arranged this way. Its a really good book for beginning canners, full of lots of advise for how to get started. I am often asked to recommend a beginning canning book to friends who are fascinated by my many jars, and this is certainly the best option I’ve had to offer them. Thanks to Ashley I managed to keep this years peach halves and peaches in brandy a perfect vivid orange rather than letting them succumb to discoloration. I’ve actually already made several of the summer recipes from here, but you’ll have to wait for those. For today I present this peach butter with lavendar. (and if you have left over lavendar, don’t forget to try making it into a citrus cordial!)
Peach Lavendar Butter from Canning & Preserving with Ashley English.
Ingredients (makes about 6 half-pints)
- 3lbs peaches
- 1/3 cup water
- 2 Tbs fresh or dried lavendar
- 3 Tbs bottled lemon juice
- 1 1/2 Tbs lemon zest
- 3 cups granulated sugar
1. Peel peaches and chop.
2. Bring the 1/3 c water to a boil and add lavender. Let steep 15 minutes.
3. Meanwhile wash & sterilize jars and lids.
4. Combine lavender water, peaches, lemon juice & zest in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil & then reduce heat to a simmer for 15 minutes. Peaches should start to break down and create a thickened sauce.
5. With an immersion blender (or food processor or regular blender), puree peaches until smooth. Cool before hand, if necessary.
6. Add sugar to peach mixture and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for another 25 minutes.
7. Process in sanitized jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.