Earlier this past week, I talked a friend into stopping by the farmers market and picking up a box of peaches for me. I don't do peaches every year, as they are a lot of work and a half-bushel box means you get a ton of peaches, but this year, is a peach year.
So for the past couple of mornings, while it is still relatively cool, my kitchen has become an assembly line of sorts. Each peach needs to be washed, then the bottom marked with a shallow "X" cut. A brief swim in a boiling water bath, followed by a dip in ice water helps the skin to slide right off.
Once the skins are off, it's a matter of slicing or dicing and placing the peaches into a bowl of lemon water. I made a batch of honeyed peaches, using a lightly sweet syrup made from local honey and water. Sixteen pints later and I think I'm good on peaches for the next year or so. All that peeling and slicing leaves quite the bowl full of debris: skin, pits and bits of peach flesh not fit for canning as is.
What to do with all that extra bits? Well, I opted to put it in a sauce pan and add water, simmering to make a deeply pink and fragrant juice. I added a few whole spices to the mix: cinnamon stick, star anise, whole allspice. Then it was into a jelly bag to strain slowly overnight, and today (after adding sugar and pectin) I made seven half-pints of beautiful rosy Spiced Peach Pit Jelly. My whole house smells like peaches--it's heavenly!
And still, I have more peaches. I'm thinking of making a slow cooked batch of Brandied Peach Butter, which if I cook it overnight should be perfect for both canning and adding to my morning porridge. If any peaches are left over after that, I may just bake something with them...peach crumble, anyone?