Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Put Up or Shut Up Episode 5: Peaches

First off, is your name in this pitcher?

It should be!  If not, you've got three ways to enter, and the chance to be in the pitcher three times to win a bottle of Vodka or Whiskey:

1. Follow the blog here through Google Friend Connect or Networked Blogs
2. Like Home Grown, Homemade on Facebook
3. Follow Home Grown, Homemade on Twitter.

If you're keeping track, you'll know that I'm also giving out more entries on my whim.  Here's another:

What would you like to see as a Put Up or Shut Up episode?  Tomatoes are coming up next, but is there anything else?  Post it on Facebook or Twitter, and get a free entry.  Also, if I use your suggestion, I'll also send you a can!

Don't suggest peaches, though, because that's the topic of today's post and I'm not sharing!

Peach season is, sadly, pretty much over in Wisconsin.  It was a bad year for fruit.  An early spring followed by a late frost is bad for fruit trees.  They bloom, then the frost kills what's there and - guess what - they don't bloom again.  And they don't get any fruit.  And then you don't get any fruit.  And if you don't get any fruit for eating, you certainly don't get any fruit for canning.

That's true.  I can't lie, it's probably true.  Okay, I can lie, and generally pretty well, but that's not really the point here.  The point is you might not be able to get your hands on any peaches.

25 lbs of peaches in my sink.  That's how you know it's
going to be a good weekend!
But, on the other hand, you might.  You see, what that frost didn't kill has a tendency to be ugly.  And we're at the end of the season, so things are even uglier.  You go to your local farmer's market (not South Shore; the peach people there aren't coming back - I bought them out!), you find the peach stand, and you wait.  You go to them at the close of the market and you bargain.  They didn't sell those peaches.  They're not going to sell those peaches.  Those peaches will be bad by next week.  Those peaches are kinda bad already.  So, what do they want for them?  Don't be a jerk.  I got my canning peaches for $1.50 per pound, and that's only after making friends with the peach people all summer.  Did you notice that my main farmer's market dish featured peaches?  Yes, it was because I like peaches.  And, yes, it was because I like a peach salad.  But really, it was because I WANTED PEACHES!  I'm not above pandering to get produce!  (I'm not above pandering to get kitchen supplies either.  Williams-Sonoma?  Sur La Table?  Start a bidding war.  Start sending me stuff.  I will endorse the crap out of whoever woos me best!  I am easily bought with any of those pretty things pictured in the kitchen porn you send me every week!  I especially enjoy the really fancy, really expensive canning jars...) 

What was I talking about?

Right.  Peaches.  Maybe you can get some; maybe you can't.  If you can, here are a few recipes.  If you can't, the technique I've outlined works on other stuff too.  If you get to the market late, you can bargain.  If you are buying bulk, you can bargain.  If you go regularly and make friends, you just might get free stuff.  Make friends.  Talk to the farmers, find the farmers that you like the best, and then keep going back!  Talk to them each week.  Ask them what's good.  Ask them what's new.  Ask them what's weird.  Make sure they notice you are there regularly.  It can't hurt, and it really can help!  I've got some boys from Union Grove that I'm slightly in love with and that I visit every week.  Even if I don't need anything, I spend $3 and get 6 ears of corn.  This week, the conversation went a little like this (very paraphrased):

Me: Hi!
Farmer Boy: Hi!  We have some greens that we don't know what they are!
Me: What?
Farmer Boy? We don't know what they are.  Do you want some?
Me: Uhh.....
Other Farmer Boy: They're not poison.  I totally ate them and I'm not dead!  Here, put them in your bag!

And now I have free greens!

(A side note, because I feel it's important.  I say that I am slightly in love with some farmer boys.  That may be offensive because, after all, I am a married women.  I can't defend my stance, except to say that, when I learned and mocked the fact that they were "Hack Family Farms," the response was "yeah, it's a good thing I didn't grow up to be a writer!"  We then proceeded to have a hour long conversation about Star Trek.  So... yeah.  I am smitten.)

It's a little late for this advice, I know.  It's too late to get to know your farmer this year.  But maybe it's a good kick in the butt.  You didn't get any peaches this year?  Well get to know a peach farmer already!

If you can get your hands on some peaches, here are some recipes to try.  Both are from Put 'em Up!
Blanching and skinning peaches.

I would also recommend freezing some peach slices.  Peel them just like you would a tomato (pop them in some boiling water for 30 seconds, and then straight into ice water).  Frozen peaches are, in my opinion, best for winter peach pies!

Brandied Peaches:
(I am, after all, a good Wisconsin Girl!)

  • 3 grams powdered vitamin C, or vitamin C tablets, crushed
  • 3 quarts cold water
  • 4 cups ice
  • 10 lbs peaches
  • 5 cups water
  • 2 cups brandy
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cups honey
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 8 cloves
In your second largest non-reactive pot, or a cooler, combine vitamin C, 3 quarts cold water, and ice.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Blanch the peaches in the boiling water, and transfer to the ice water, just as if you were removing the skin from tomatoes.  Peel off the skin, and return to the acid/ice bath to prevent browning.  Half or quarter the peaches, and pack into clean, hot, pint jars.

Bring the water, brandy, sugar, honey, and spices to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.  Remove from the heat and pour the syrup over the peaches to cover by 1/2 inch.  Leave 1/2 inch of headspace.

Process using the boiling water method for 30 minutes.  Turn off the heat, remove the canner lid, and let the jars rest in the water for 5 minutes.  Check seals, then store in a cool dark place for up to one year.

Ginger Peach Jam
 (A spicy treat in winter!  You can use less ginger if you're not a fan)

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Pomona's Universal Pectin
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup bottled lemon juice
  • 4 lbs peaches
  • 2 tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • 1 tbsp calcium water (included in the Pomona Box.)
Stir together the sugar and pectin in a small bowl and set aside.  Combine ht water and lemon juice in a large non-reactive pot.  Prepare an ice water bath in a large bowl.

Bring a second large pot of water to a boil.  Working in batches, blanch the fruit in the boiling water for 30 seconds to loosen the skin (just like tomatoes!)

Scoop the peaches out of the water and drop into ice water bath.  Peel, pit, and dice the peaches, adding them to the lemon water as you go.

Bring the peach mixture to a boil.  Add the ginger and simmer for 5 minutes.  Lightly mash about 1/4 of the mixture.  Stir in the sugar/pectin mixture and return to a boil.  Add the calcium water, stir,  and remove from the heat.

Fill half pint canning jars, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace.  Release any trapped air.  Process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.  Turn off the heat, remove the canner lid, and let the jars rest in the water for 5 minutes.  Store in a dark place for up to one year.


  1. Kate just helped me follow her on The Twitter. She is so helpful!

  2. Now I want peaches! Probably a good thing you bought them out since I wouldn't have time to can them anyway.

  3. Apple season is coming. I have an apple butter recipie I love, but canning apples for pies or ice cream topping would be good. Of course you may have posted that last year. I'm on my iPad and too lazy to go look. :)

  4. Hey Kate - How many pints of brandied peaches and half pints of jam did you get from these recipes?

  5. Another question - can I substitute Sure Jell pectin in place of the Pomona's Universal Pectin & calcium water?