This month's notes: March 2014: Spring is just around the corner. Strawberries are here in Florida, Texas and California, next in late March and April for much of the South, then in May for most of the country and June in cooler northern areas. See how easy it is to make strawberry jam or strawberry-rhubarb jam! See this page for hundreds of easy canning and freezing instructions/recipes, canning equipment guide! Also make your own ice cream - see How to make ice cream and ice cream making equipment and manuals. Then see each state's crop availability calendar for more specific dates of upcoming crops. Organic farms are identified in green! See our guide to local fruit and vegetable festivals!. Please tell the farms you found them here - and ask them to update their information!!
How to Make Peach Butter - Easy, Illustrated, Reliable Home Canning Recipe, in Simple Steps!
How to Make Homemade Peach Butter - Easily!
You think making and canning your own peach butter is difficult? Well, it used to be! Until crock pots and slow cookers came along!
Now, it's easy! Here's how to do it, complete instructions in easy steps and completely illustrated. The peach butter will taste MUCH better than anything you've ever had from a store.
Prepared this way, the jars have a shelf life of 18 months to 2 years, and require no special attention. A side benefit is that your house will smell wonderful while it is cooking - much better than potpourri!
Directions for Making peach butter
Ingredients and Equipment
- Peaches - About 35 peaches for a full 6 quart crock pot batch (See step 1)
- Jar grabber (to pick up the hot jars)
- Lid lifter (has a magnet to pick the lids out of the boiling water where you sanitize them. ($2 at Target, other big box stores, and often grocery stores; and available online - see this page)
- Jar funnel ($2 at Target, other big box stores, and often grocery stores; and available online - see this page)
- 1 Crock pot (slow cooker)
- Large spoons and ladles
- 1 Canner (a huge pot to sanitize the jars of peach butter after filling (about $30 to $35 at mall kitchen stores, sometimes at big box stores and grocery stores.))
- Ball jars (Grocery stores, like Publix, Kroger, Safeway carry them, as do some big box stores - about $8 per dozen quart jars including the lids and rings)
Peach Butter Recipe and Directions
Step 1 - Selecting the peaches, plums, cherries or nectarines
The most important step! You need peaches that are sweet, and to make the work easier, cling-free (also called freestone). This means that the peach separates easily from the pit! Same with nectarines, and this doesn't apply to cherries or plums.
Choose ripe, mature fruit. They should not be mushy, but they also should not be rock hard: just as ripe as you would eat them fresh. Green, unripe peaches will soften but will not ripen, nor have the flavor of tree-ripe peaches.
After this step, I'll just refer to "peaches" but it applies to plums, cherries and nectarines.
Step 2 - How many peaches and where to get them
You can pick your own, or buy them at the grocery store. For very large quantities (more than a few bushels), you'll find that real* farmer's markets, like the Farmer's Market in Forest Park, Georgia have them at the best prices.
It takes about 7 good sized peaches or nectarines (or about 15 plums) to make one quart of prepared peaches. And each quart of prepared peaches cooks down to about 1 pint of peach butter.
So that means you'll need about 7 large peaches per pint of peach butter that you want to make!
For one batch in a 5 to 6 quart crockpot you'll need about 35 to 40 medium to large peaches! The rest of the measurements assume you're making one full batch!
Step 3 -Wash the peaches!
I'm sure you can figure out how to wash the peaches in plain cold or lukewarm water.
In boiling water for 60 seconds,
then in cold water for 2 min.
Step 4 - Peeling the Peaches
Nope, we're not going to peel them by hand; that's way too much work. Instead, here's a great trick that works with many fruits and vegetables with skins (like tomatoes): just dip the fruit in boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds. Remove from the water using a slotted spoon and put into a large bowl or pot of cold water and ice. The skins will easily slide off now!
Nectarines do not need to be peeled, if you don't mind the skins.
Step 5 - Cut up and blend the peaches
Cut out any brown spots and mushy areas. Cut the peaches in half, or quarters or slices, as you prefer! Remove pits!
If you want REALLY smooth peach butter, run the cut up peaches through your food processor or blender until they are pureed!
Step 6 - Fill the crock pot
Fill the crock pot to within an inch of full with the peaches. My crockpot holds about 5.5 quarts. Now, you CAN do this using a regular large pot on very low heat on the stove, but the crockpot works much better, because its heat is very low. I've never had a batch burn in the crockpot.
Step 7 -Add the spices and sweetener of your choice
To the crockpot full of cut up peaches, add:
- 2 tablespoons of ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon of allspice
- 4 cups sugar (or other sweetener)
The sweetener can be sugar, Stevia (or if you prefer, Splenda), fruit juice (peach juice or white grape juice work well) or none at all! Generally, a fruit butter, like peach butter is a fairly sweet concoction, so you might want to add some sweetening. I usually add about 2 cups of sugar and 2 cups Splenda (or about 1/3 that if you use Stevia, which is my preference), so it's sweet, but not loaded with sugar.
Step 8 - Cook the Peach butter
Set the crock pot on low or medium heat. Some report that even low is too high for overnight and use "warm". Every crockpot is different; You'll need to experiment with your own - better to go lower than higher.
Cover it loosely or use a large pot splatter-guard. It will spatter as it boils slowly, so I also cover nearby surfaces with towels. You don't want to seal it tightly because you want the steam to escape so it can reduce in volume and thicken.
A visitor suggests, take a couple of butter knives, and lay them across the top of the crock pot. They are parallel and located about 2/3 of the way out from the center. Then put the lid on these supports, leaving it "covering" the pot and keeping the splatters under control, but, leaving a good gap for steam to escape.
Leave it to cook for 6 - 12 hours. How long depends on the size and power of your crockpot, and how thick you like it, If you want to stir it occasionally, that's fine but not necessary. I let mine go overnight.
It will reduce in volume by about half overnight.
Step 9 - Wash the jars and lids
Now's a good time to get the jars ready, so you won't be rushed later. The dishwasher is fine for the jars; especially if it has a "sanitize" cycle, the water bath processing will sanitize them as well as the contents! If you don't have a dishwasher with a sanitize cycle, you can wash the containers in hot, soapy water and rinse, then sanitize the jars by boiling them 10 minutes, and keep the jars in hot water until they are used.
Leave the jars in the dishwasher on "heated dry" until you are ready to use them. Keeping them hot will prevent the jars from breaking when you fill them with the hot peach butter.
Put the lids into a pan of hot, but not quite boiling water (that's what the manufacturer's recommend) for 5 minutes, and use the magnetic "lid lifter wand" to pull them out.
Step 10 - Blend the peach butter (optional)
You want a smooth, creamy texture, right? If the peach butter is not as smooth as you'd like, just use a hand-held drink blender. It does a great job for finishing it up! You can also put it into a regular blender, but if you are going to do that, you might want to blend the peach sauce before you put it in the crock pot (it will be much thicker afterwards and won't move in a regular blender). Another visitor says running it through a food mill with a fine screen or through a sieve works, too.
- Too thick? if the peach butter cooks down too much or is too thick for your liking, just add a little bit of peach juice and blend it in.
- Not thick enough? Just let it cook some more, with the lid off so the steam can escape!
Step 11 - Fill the jars
Fill them to within ¼-inch of the top, wipe any spilled peach butter of the top, seat the lid and tighten the ring around them. Put them in the canner and keep them cover with at least 1 inch of water and boiling. if you are at sea level (up to 1,000 ft) boil pint jars for 15 minutes and quart jars for 20 min. If you are at an altitude of 1,000 feet or more, see the chart at the bottom of this page.
Step 12 - Done
Lift the jars out of the water and let them cool without touching or bumping them in a draft-free place (usually takes overnight) You can then remove the rings if you like, but if you leave them on, at least loosen them quite a bit, so they don't rust in place due to trapped moisture. Once the jars are cool, you can check that they are sealed verifying that the lid has been sucked down. Just press in the center, gently, with your finger. If it pops up and down (often making a popping sound), it is not sealed. If you put the jar in the refrigerator right away, you can still use it. Some people replace the lid and reprocess the jar, then that's a bit iffy. If you heat the contents back up, re-jar them (with a new lid) and the full time in the canner, it's usually ok.
From left to right:
- Jar lifting tongs
to pick up hot jars
- Lid lifter
- to remove lids from the pot
of boiling water (sterilizing )
- disposable - you may only
use them once
- holds the lids on the jar until after
the jars cool - then you don't need them
- Canning jar funnel
- to fill the jars
|Process Time at Altitudes of|
|Style of Pack||Jar Size||0 - 1,000 ft||1,001 - 6,000 ft||Above 6,000 ft|
|Hot||Half-pints or Pints||15 min||20||25|
Frequently Asked Questions
- Q: I have about 18-20 large peaches to work with. I saw
your peach butter recipe in the crock pot. It sounds great. My crock
pot is smaller, just over 3 quarts. Since I have fewer peaches to
work with and a smaller pot, my question is, how much to reduce the
sugar and spices?
A: Certainly! Unlike jam recipes with pectin that are finicky to "set" butter and sauce recipes can be scaled up or down!
Home Canning Kits
This is the same type of standard canner that my grandmother used
to make everything from peachsauce to jams and jellies to tomato and
spaghetti sauce. This complete kit includes everything you need and lasts
for years: the canner, jar rack, jar grabber tongs, lid lifting wand, a
plastic funnel, labels, bubble freer, and the bible of canning, the Ball
Blue Book. It's much cheaper than buying the items separately. You'll
never need anything else except jars and lids (and the jars are reusable).
To see more canners, of
different styles, makes and prices, click here!
Lids, Rings, Jars, mixes, pectin, etc.
Need lids, rings and replacement jars? Or pectin to make jam, spaghetti sauce or salsa mix or pickle mixes? Get them all here, and usually at lower prices than your local store!
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Illustrated Canning, Freezing, Jam Instructions and Recipes
[ All About Home Canning, Freezing and Making Jams, Pickles, Sauces, etc. ] [FAQs - Answers to common questions and problems] [Recommended books about home canning, jam making, drying and preserving!] [Free canning publications to download and print]