Well, 20 pounds of peaches is a lot of peaches. A single batch of jam is not going to use up those babies. Fortunately, when we had Put ’em Up! Fruit, by Sherri Brooks Vinton checked out of the library, we noticed another recipe that used peaches, seemed easy, and sounded very good: Peach Melba Compote.
As with yesterday’s post about the Peach Jam, we’re not going to go into the processing that’s necessary for long-term, shelf-stable storage. If you want to learn that, you can look through Put ’em Up! Fruit, which does an excellent job, or you might even be able to find a course in your town with hands-on teaching. But, for those who know how to put up fruit, this recipe can be processed with the boiling water method for 10 minutes.
Makes 4 pints
With a recipe that you plan on processing, do not make substitutions. Follow it exactly. So, that means bottled lemon juice to make the fruit acidic enough for canning (you won’t taste it). For the peaches, do not use over-ripe fruit. Instead, use about 25% under-ripe, and the rest perfectly ripe.
Procedure in detail:
Combine sugar and lemon juice. In a large (3-quart) saucepan, combine the water and lemon juice. It serves two purposes: first, it increases the acidity and makes the fruit safe to can, and, second, it prevents the peaches from browning. You will not taste it in the finished compote.
Peel and slice peaches. Peel, pit, and slice the peaches into wedges that look nice, placing them into the lemon water as you work so the slices don’t brown. You can whistle while you work, too, if you’re so inclined and know how to whistle.
Add sugar. Pour the sugar over the peaches and stir it around to coat. If your peaches are anything like ours, enough juice will come out to dissolve all the sugar. That’s fine; do the best you can.
Let sit. Let the peach slices sit in the sugar and juice for 2 to 4 hours. This is to draw out the water and toughen up the fruit so that it will stay in nice slices through the cooking process.
Simmer. Slowly bring the peaches to a boil, and let them simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, or until the peaches soften, but are not falling apart.
Let rest. Remove the peaches from the heat and let rest for about 5 minutes. Every once in a while, give the peaches a gentle stir. After 5 minutes, skim off the foam so they look nice.
Distribute raspberries. While the peaches are resting, distribute the pint of raspberries among 4 pint containers. We used 1-cup jars and that seemed to work.
Distribute peaches. Now, distribute the peaches among the four containers, and refrigerate (or process to make shelf-stable).
We went ahead and processed this batch in a boiling water bath to make the jars of compote shelf-stable, so we haven’t had the chance to try it yet. When we do, we’ll rate them as far as flavor. We will say, however, that a lot of peach juice was removed from the peaches. So much so, that we ended up with a pint and a half of peach syrup (we made seven 1/2-pint jars full instead of the four 1-pint jars, so we knew we’d have extra; we just didn’t think it would be all syrup). We’ve had this occur before, and, to us it’s not a big deal, since the syrup tastes great on pancakes, but it might be disconcerting if you’re making this for the first time.
Update: We just thought you know that when we tasted these, it was like a taste of summer. Fives!