Thursday, September 28, 2017

Bourbon Peaches

Hello world! My work has been a little nutso recently, and then I made a 36-hour trip to Boston last weekend for my mother's 60th birthday. Also, jam club is officially up and running again- the 35lbs of apricots we put away a couple weeks back were just the start. Two Fridays ago, when I turned down a social invitation to do jam things, my friend was all "isn't Saturday jam club day?" and then I laughed like a crazy person because EVERY DAY IS JAM DAY. Do not test me. I will pelt you with apples and not even shout "rock!" as I drop them. I have 302 pounds of apples. We can spare a few for revenge.

Correction: I had 302 pounds of apples. They are now cider, 10 gallons of which are being stashed in my incredibly accommodating roommates' chest freezer.

Anyways... last two Saturdays ago was peach day, and although it's rapidly cooling down here (quick seasonal transitions seem to be Utah's thing this year) I'm hoping that wherever you are, there are still peaches. Because these bourbon peaches? They were the best thing we made last year, and quite possibly the best thing to ever be put on top of vanilla ice cream. More creative people than I could probably even finagle this into some sort of upside-down peach cake situation. Regardless, they're phenomenal - and I need to tell you about them now, because today is my breather between Tuesday (picking pears), Wednesday (making vinegar from fallen pears), Friday (cutting and prepping pears) and Saturday (making pear ginger jam). Also, I start hunter safety next week in anticipation of a trip that probably won't happen. These are appropriate ways to use my time, right?

Problem is, I don't have any good pictures. Jam days tend to be gross, sweaty indoor affairs, and any photos taken have empty coffee pots in the background and terrible lighting. Instead, I hope you will accept last year's photo of my farm wife, seen here performing her solemn duty to be queen of the jams. The peaches in question are quite visible in the bottom left corner, and also in her hand. I made the paper crown- does that count?

Bourbon Peaches
Adapted very slightly from the Food in Jars book!

6lbs peaches
1 lemon (optional)
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 cup bourbon, divided*
4 pint jars

Peel the peaches: boil a pot of water, and fill a large bowl with ice water. When the water is boiling, add the peaches (in batches if necessary). One minute later, remove the peaches with a slotted spoon and put in the ice water. At this point, the skins should slip right off.

Once the peaches are peeled, cut them in half and remove the pits. Toss all the peaches together with the juice from the lemon, which will help stop the fruit from browning**.

Boil a pot of water big enough to hold four pint jars standing up. Sterilize four pint jars, along with their rings and lids. (If canning is TOTALLY new to you, the same lady I stole the recipe from has a great resource on her site!). Combine the sugar with 3 cups of water in a pot over medium heat and cook, stirring regularly until the sugar dissolves.

While the syrup is cooking, pack the peach halves into four pint jars as tightly as you can. When all your peaches are packed, pour 1/4 cup of bourbon into each jar. To remove air bubbles, run a chopstick or thin knife down the side of each jar, or tap them gently on the countertop. Add syrup, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace.

Wipe the rims, put on the lids and rings, and put the jars into the boiling water. Set a timer for 25*** minutes. When time is up, turn the pot off and let the jars cool at least partially with the water- this was the best way we found to avoid bourbon leakage.

*A note on the booze: we used bottom shelf bourbon- like, really bottom shelf. In-a-plastic bottle bottom shelf. If we weren't canning with it, and it were vodka, I might attempt to use it as a cleaning product. Point is, you're welcome to use whatever actually tasty bourbon you've got hanging around, but it might be a waste- between adding sugar syrup and peaches, even shit bourbon ends up tasting pretty good. I'm enough of a snob to have been seriously skeptical last year, but I can tell you now it works.

**Also, this year, in a (successful) attempt to avoid last year's three-day peach meltdown and subsequent cursing, we rallied the community and got a bunch of help peeling and pitting on Friday night before canning the next day. It's not a big deal, but despite the lemon juice, the peaches did get a little brown. If that's a deal breaker, just peel and can them all the same day.

***This is at sea level- in Utah we went longer!

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