A few years ago, my mom bought a peach tree. It sat in a pot on her back porch, where she basically let it die because she hadn’t gotten around to planting it. My mom actually has an unbelievably green thumb–I’ve never seen anyone who can grow things like she can–but there’s always, you know, that rare exception for the things you don’t get around to actually planting. (I have no such excuse.)
Anyway, eventually the tragedy of the dying tree bothered my dad enough that he convinced mom to find a place and stick it in the ground, and that’s exactly what she did–find any old place and stick it in the ground, assuming it’d die and that’d be the end of it, oh well. And it almost was. The first year, it did hardly anything. Then last year, it produced a few–just a few!–really lovely peaches. This year, it got its revenge.
No joke, when I went over to try and save Mom from The Invasion of the Peaches, there must have been at least 300 of them on her counter. I would have estimated half that, but then I realized she’d sent me home with about 50, so I must have been looking at way more than I’d realized. And she’d already given some away. And she said half of them had fallen off the tree before they matured. This tree is going to be terrorizing our family for years to come, I tell ya. I guess it’s a good thing I have lots of peach recipes up my sleeve.
Anyone else’s kids like peach applesauce? My boys are nuts for those Mott’s/Seneca flavored applesauce cups, but it kind of drives me nuts to buy them. They’re super expensive, compared to just a plain old jar of applesauce, and they don’t make jars of the flavored stuff. And when I buy the little cups, I have to arm-wrestle my kids all week long to leave them alone and just save them for cold lunches. So I was pretty excited to find this recipe out there. I have to say, my house has smelled *amazing* while this has been cooking. I think the addition of vanilla was a fair bit of genius.
Fresh Peach Applesauce
adapted from yummly.com
4 pounds fresh peaches (I believe canned or frozen would do, too–I just had fresh, so I can only speak to how they behave here)
3 pounds cooking apples, e.g. Jonathan, McIntosh, or Rome
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp real vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
2 tsp Fruit Fresh (optional)
1 cup water
If you’re canning it:
10 pint or 5 quart Mason jars, sterilized
Peel peaches. If you’re not familiar with this process, the easiest way is to blanch them. Fill a large stockpot about half-full of water and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, cut a large “X” in the top of each peach. Don’t be conservative here–I used to be afraid of marring my peaches and just barely nicked the skin, and that’ll get you nowhere. Cut big, deep Xs all the way down to the pit on the top. You won’t even notice them when you’re finished, and you’re slicing up this fruit anyway. While your water’s heating, fill a very large bowl about half-full of cold water and ice cubes. Then drop the peaches in the boiling water, but don’t overcrowd them. You can do this in batches. Let them boil for about 2 minutes, and then dump them immediately in the ice water. The cold water stops the cooking process, but you’ll find that the peels literally fall off. It’s awesome.
Once your peaches are peeled, slice into quarters or sixths and dump in a 6+ quart slow cooker. Peel (with a knife/peeler) and slice apples in similarly sized slices and add to cooker.
In a glass measuring cup, whisk together water, sugar, spices, and Fruit Fresh (if using). Pour over fruit and place lid on slow cooker. Heat on low for about 6 hours, stirring/mashing 2-3 times during process.
Keep in mind: fresh peaches put off a lot of liquid. When I’d go to check & stir, I found that my applesauce was extremely soupy, so I decided to drain off some of the juice a couple of times during the process. If you’re running into the same, you can smush a fine-mesh sieve down onto the fruit. Note how the opaque juice will come up through the sieve, but the mushy fruit will stay down underneath. I just used a measuring cup and scooped the juice out into another container. (I’m keeping it in my fridge, because I suspect once it cools down it’s going to be something like an amazing peach cider. YUM.) I removed 5 cups of juice in all.
When all your fruit is soft and mushy, use whatever tool you like best to process it down to the consistency you like. My kids like their applesauce really smooth, so I use a stick blender. But I’ve also used a food mill, and I hear even a sieve works fine.
At this point, you should have about 20 cups of peach applesauce. I chose to can 8 pints and just stick another 2 in a jar in the fridge, since I know we’ll eat a bit right away. You could do the same with all your applesauce and be done right now, if you wanted.
But if you need help canning:
Fill jars nearly full, leaving about 1/2″ space at top. Make sure rims are completely clean.
Fill a large canning bath or stockpot about half full and bring to boil. Drop lids in water and boil about 2 minutes to heat rubber. Remove lids with tongs or lid tool and drop carefully on top of jars. Place rings on jars, tightening just until they stop, but not over-tight.
Place jars in water bath on very low, simmering boil. Do not overcrowd pot, but don’t leave lots of empty space, either. (If need be, do this step in two batches.) Make sure water covers jars by about 1″, and let jars sit on low boil for about 15 minutes for pints or 20 minutes for quarts. Remove promptly and let cool on wire rack. Try not to bang jars around too much when removing.
After cooling 12-14 hours, ensure each lid has “popped” down and can’t be depressed before storing. If not, store in the fridge to eat right away. 🙂 If your lids are working properly, you can tighten those rings down and store your applesauce for up to 1 year. Might be a good idea to label it!