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Thankfully it is still peach season.  Labor Day is rapidly approaching and I realized that I need to start preserving peaches (rather than sticking them in pies and cobblers) if I want to enjoy them this winter.  Thankfully the State of Washington came to my rescue.

Washington put up a new site, Sweet Preservation, which focuses on canning recipes for Washington grown fruit.  The site is quite brilliant, in addition to recipes it has tutorials and downloadable canning labels. One quick read through and you will be inspired to make jam gift baskets for all your friends. 

Washington is famous for its Yakima peaches, so of course there are a number of peach oriented selections to choose from.  Their Peach Jam with Brown Sugar and Rum posting quickly caught my eye.  My husband had just returned from a multi-day float trip on the John Day River – and still had some Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum left over.  I took it all as a sign from some higher power…peaches are in season, I need to preserve some peaches, a peach jam recipe that calls for rum and left over spiced rum.

Besides just sounding oh so yummy – it was a no pectin recipe.  I have been experimenting with no pectin long cook jams and love their concentrated flavors.  This time – after two gel set tests there was gel set success – no additional assistance pectin required – woo hoo.  Not sure why it worked – I did buy peaches that were not perfectly ripe (fruit loses pectin as it matures) and I was quite generous with the lemon juice – using a combination of bottled and fresh.  Or, perhaps, the canning gods were just smiling on me this afternoon.

This recipe made four 1/2 pints.  I was a little sad that there wasn’t more jam when it was all over.  That seems to be the way with long cook jams – they reduce down a fair amount to get that amazing concentrated fruit flavor.  Guess I just need to remember to make more than one batch next time.

Recipe (courtesy of Sweet Preservation)

6 cups peeled and chopped peaches

6 tablespoons lemon juice

2 cups brown sugar

3/4 cup rum (I used Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum)

2 cups white sugar

Mix peaches, brown sugar, lemon juice and 1/2 of the rum in a large non-reactive bowl – mix well and let sit at room temperature for 6-12 hours.  Pour peach mixture into a non-reactive pot and bring to a boil – stirring to prevent scorching.  Once a rolling boil is reached turn down heat, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes (until fruit is translucent) – stir frequently to prevent scorching.  After fruit mixture is cooked add white sugar, turn up heat to medium-high and bring back to a full boil.  Continue cooking until gel set is reached (it took me about 20 minutes).  Once gel set is reached – add remaining rum and continue cooking for 2 more minutes.  Ladle into sterile jars and process in a hot water bath canner for 10 minutes.

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Welcome peaches...now get in my belly

 

I try to eat seasonally – so when a long missed friend arrived at the farmers market  I was just giddy.   Beautiful Yakima peaches were on center stage Sunday morning.  I didn’t think I got that late of a start – but I hung around the house to watch the final stage of the Tour de France.  The market opens at 9am – I got there at 9:20am and by the time I made my way to the peaches they were already picked over by the non-TdF fan set – guess I wasn’t the only one excited to see them.     

Four pounds of peeled and chopped peaches - ok so not all of them made it into the bowl

 

Despite the lack of firm unblemished options, I couldn’t resist and picked up a several of pounds of on the verge of being overripe peach goodness.  I knew these babies were not going to last long; they barely made the trip home intact.  When I loaded up my bag at the market I actually thought I would have a day or so to figure out what to make with them – by the time I got them home I realized I didn’t.     

Settling in for a long simmer

 

A quick scan of the pantry turned up 3 large boxes of golden raisins (left over from a shopping list gone wrong), a bag of onions, spices and garlic…so my brain immediately thought chutney.  Actually spicy peach chutney – the type that makes your entire house smell like an indian spice market.  I adapted the spicy peach chutney recipe from All Recipes.  My adjustments were to reduce the amount of crystalized ginger slightly (not a fan) and to increase (slightly) the amount of curry powder, garlic and onion.   

The pile of spices - adjust to your tastes

 

This recipe takes time.  There is a fair amount of peeling and chopping prep.  Once you have your chutney assembled and simmering – it needs additional time to cook down; actually lots of time – 1 1/2 to 2 hours worth of time.  This is not a leave it to its own devices sort of recipe – you need to stir frequently during the cooking period to avoid scorching.  My suggestion, load in a good long movie into the dvd and settle in for the afternoon.  I made this batch of chutney while watching Lord of the Rings – The Two Towers.  Everything was peeled, chopped and ground up by Gandalf the White’s reveal and battle of Helm’s Deep wrapped up about the same time as the chutney.  Your time will be well rewarded – this spicy sweet chutney goes well with poultry (making a wicked curried chicken salad) and pork.  Next up for this chutney – replacing tomato sauce on grilled pizza.   

The end result - will be seen on a slice of roasted chicken near you soon

 

Recipe (adapted from All Recipes’ Spicy Peach Chutney):   

4 pounds peaches – peeled and chopped   

4 cups apple cider vinegar   

4 cups brown sugar   

3 cloves minced garlic   

4 ounces candied ginger chopped   

1 cup golden raisins   

1 1/2 tablespoons of chili powder   

1 tablespoon of mustard seed   

2 teaspoons of curry powder   

one small onion chopped   

1/4 cup pickling spices – bundled in cheese cloth   

Combine all ingredients in large non-reactive stock pot.  Bring to a boil over medium heat.  Cook at a moderate simmer until desired consistency (1 1/2 to 2 hours) stirring frequently.  Ladle into clean glass jars leaving 1/4 inch head space.  Process for 10 minutes in boiling water canner.