Saturday, July 14, 2012

Jam - Cook It! 2012 June Resolution + Summer Peach Jam, Peach Syrup & Bourbon Peach Skin Butter Recipes

When I saw that the June Cook It! challenge was making jam, I thought "this one will be easy!" I already make a lot of jam but wanted to try something new and fancy of my own creation. I was busy concocting summery jam recipes in my head: apricot and rose geranium, nectarine with blueberry and lemon verbena, blackberry and rosemary. Those jam dreams will have to wait though, as I have ended up being away from home for the past few weeks and am unable to spend much time in a kitchen. But luckily, I have my June peach project to turn to.

It started with my buying 5 lbs of peaches in order to make some Pickled Ginger Peaches for the June swap. By the time I needed them though, they weren't quite ripe enough and I ended up mutating them a fair bit while blanching and struggling to remove the clinging skins. Off I went for a fresh and riper 5 lbs to work with so they'd look pretty in their jars, and then post-swap turned my attention to the less pretty fruit I'd stowed in the fridge.

Jam was the obvious choice, but looking at all the peels made me think I should do something more with them too. As usual, Punk Domestics led me somewhere I wanted to be. I found a post about Peach Peel Butter that I could easily adapt. Half way through that process I almost gave up and just went with Peach Syrup, but the feeling I could get some more out of those peach skins was persistent, so I went for a variation of the butter too. In the end those 5 lbs of peaches gave me jam, syrup and butter - the most satisfying kind of economy ever.

Recipe for Summer Peach Jam
Makes 6 half pints

6.5 cups peaches, washed, blanched, skinned, pitted and chopped
4.5 cups sugar
¼ cup lemon juice (juice from 1½ lemons)
3 pieces star anise
½ cup water
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
8 ounces of homemade apple pectin

Add sugar to chopped fruit and leave to macerate for a couple hours in a non-reactive pan. This step is optional, but it releases the juices from the fruit which helps it break down more while cooking. Since my fruit wasn't the ripest I left it macerating for about four hours.

Prepare your water bath canner and jars before or just after you begin cooking your jam, so that you can work seamlessly once it is ready. {If you're new to home canning, Local Kitchen's how-to post is great! I also recommend spending some time with the USDA's Complete Guide to Home Canning}

Bring the peaches, sugar and lemon juice to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and use a potato masher to break the fruit up. Add water and 3 pieces of star anise and continue cooking and stirring regularly to prevent scorching. Even though homemade apple pectin is different from commercial pectin in that it can cook for longer, I added mine after about an hour on the stovetop and only needed an additional 10-15 minutes before it began to thicken up nicely. Add the salt just before removing from the burner.

Fill hot jars, leaving a ¼-inch headspace. Use a chopstick to remove any air bubbles, and wipe rims with a clean, damp cotton dish towel. Add lids and screw rings to fingertip tightness only. Process in water-bath for 10 minutes and then remove from canner. Let rest on a wire cooling rack for 24 hours. 

Recipe for Peach Syrup and Bourbon Peach Skin Butter
Technique for Peach Skin Butter adapted from this recipe

Peach skins
Maker's Mark (or similar quality) bourbon

Weigh the peach skins leftover from your jam-making, and add the same weight of sugar to a non-reactive pan or glass bowl. Stir and leave to macerate, covered, for 24 hours. You can leave this for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.

When ready, place macerated skins and sugar on the stovetop over low heat, adding the juice from ½ lemon plus 2 cups of water to start. Leave to cook, stirring occasionally and adding water as it thickens to keep it from burning.

Turn the heat off and cover overnight.

If you want syrup as well as butter, on the second day, add a few cups of water and cook until it has incorporated to become syrup, which should be a gorgeous color and very fragrant. Pour through a strainer into bottles, reserving 4 oz of the syrup if you're going to make the butter. Add the reserved syrup back into the skins, and keep cooking it down and adding water for another day. 

If there are still some stubborn chunks of skin as it approaches the consistency of fruit butter you like, use an immersion stick blender for a couple minutes to smooth it out and make it more uniform. 

When done, turn off the heat and stir in a capful of Maker’s Mark bourbon.

Since I was leaving town, I decided to process the one half pint jar in my handy 4th burner pot. If that's your chosen rout too, process for 10 minutes in the water bath, then turn off the heat and leave it in the hot water for another 5 minutes with the top off.

The beauty of making the syrup and butter is you don't really need a recipe, just match the weight of your peach skins and your sugar, and keep adding water. For me, 1 lb 14 oz of skin produced 12 ounces of finished syrup and 1 half pint of butter!

This was an extra enjoyable project since I got to use up every last scrap of fruit, plus try out some new techniques. And that's what this Cook It! year of challenges is all about right?

Peach Jam + Bourbon Peach Skin Butter + Syrup on Punk Domestics


  1. This is just magical! I'm filing it away for next summer, since peaches are done and then some here in the deep south. Thanks!

    1. Thanks Kate! Glad it tickled your fancy :)

  2. nice posting. thanks for sharing

    1. Thanks for visiting and taking the time to comment!

  3. I love this! I always feel so bad about not knowing what to do with the leftover skins (I usually just compost them). I can't wait to try the syrup and butter -- beautiful.

  4. Oh, and you have totally turned me on to the idea of miniprocessing in that 4th burner pot. I just the other day saw a pint jar mini canner, but it still seemed a bit too large to justify. Your idea is perfect for just small amounts. THANKS!

  5. Do you have to process the syrup? I would love to put the syrup in wine type bottles with a cork and give for gifts if that is food safe. Thank you for the recipes. I am looking forward to trying the syrup and the butter.

    1. I did not process the syrup, just put it into bottles and then directly into the fridge. I've never really processed syrup, so am honestly not comfortable recommending whether this would be safe/shelf stable. Definitely great for gifts if stored in the fridge!

  6. There's a similar recipe with canning instructions for the syrup at in case you're interested. They do not suggest the peach peel butter, though. :)

    1. Thanks Faustess - good to know. I am thinking of peach salsas and chutneys this season, but haven't had much preserving time in the kitchen.

  7. I made this over the weekend. I ran out of white sugar while processing the peaches, so I used brown sugar instead. It has a very rich, deep flavor with a hint of black strap molasses. It really is quite amazing! My batch of skins was just shy of a pound, and I ended up with three half pints.

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