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Peach Butter

My considered recommendation for fruit butter is this: Peel the
peaches and chunk or slice the fruit. Cook them in a 2-quart pyrex
pitcher in the microwave until they are tender. I like to nuke
them that way because you can do it with little or no additional
liquid that you'd then want to drain off. OR, cook them with only
the barest amount of water, so they don't burn or stick, until
tender. Drain through a colander, reserving the peach juice. Put
the drained peaches through a food mill to puree. I don't like
the texture of fruit that's pureed in a food processor. If your
peaches are particularly scrumptious, add sugar in a ratio of about
1 cup sugar to 3 cups peach pulp. Add a bit of cinnamon and nutmeg
to taste. Not too much. Cook it slowly, stirring more often as
it thickens, in a heavy kettle or dutch oven, nonreactive metal
preferred, until it is of the desired consistency -- thickened
somewhat, no liquid oozes from the edges when a dollop is placed
on a saucer.

A splatter shield (screen) is invaluable, IMHO, because if you
cover the kettle, you'll contain the very steam you want to evaporate.
You cannot hurry fruit butters. Too high heat will caramelize the
sugar and you'll have peach mortar. Don't do that. Alternatively
(I have done this), pour the sweetened and seasoned puree into a
shallow roasting pan (I use an old enameled pan that measures about
12x18 inches and bake it in a low oven (no more than 325 degrees,
I'm thinking), stirring occasionally. When it suits you, jar it
up in appropriate sterilized jars, seal and process in a boiling
water bath for 10 minutes for half pint jars. You're looking for
48 half-pint jars? Make yourself comfortable; you'll be at it a
while.

Fresh Peach Butter
7 cups sliced, peeled, ripe peaches, pureed in food processor or blender
3 cups sugar
2 tablespoons bottled lemon juice

In a 6-8 quart pan, heat lemon juice for 1 minute over medium-high
heat. Add pureed peaches and sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring
constantly. Continue boiling, stirring constantly, until mixture
is the consistency of thick applesauce (about 15 minutes).
Immediately fill hot, sterilized half-pint jars with mixture,
leaving 1/4. headspace. Wipe jar tops and threads clean. Place
hot lids on jars and screw bands on firmly. Process in boiling
water bath for 5 minutes. Yield: About 6 half-pint jars.

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