Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Millions of Peaches

A family tradition, going back at least as far as my grandmother's childhood, is an annual pilgrimage to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Every summer, various members of my extended family rent a cottage (or a few) for a week (or two) and enjoy some absolute laziness. Part of the tradition is to stop at Grandy's Greenhouse and Farm Market just prior to reaching the Outer Banks for lots of fresh produce and ... peaches.

Let me tell you something about these peaches: once you eat one of these, you will never eat any purchased at a grocery store or from a can. They are MAGICAL!!! So, of course, I had to bake with them while at the beach this year. I experimented with my mother's Peach Cake and tried a new recipe for a Vanilla Peach Custard Pie.

Above is my version of Mom's Peach cake: I call it "Peach Shortcake Pie"
Below is my version of the Vanilla Peach Custard Pie, which I made with mini-graham crusts :)

Based on my opinion (and hopefully my mother's and my aunt's) these were delicious!!! There is a Peach Recipe Contest this Friday (8/5/2011) downtown, and I have decided to use my Peach Shortcake Pie... wish me luck!!!

Somehow at the end of the beach week, I ended up with all of the remaining peaches. Mom and I stopped at Grandy's on the way home to pick up fresh peaches (she has about 100 people who specifically request these every year) and I snarfed a few fresh ones from her batch for the contest. But what was I to do with approximately 6 pounds of peaches that were on the far side of fresh?

Thus I began my first ever adventure with making Preserves. I found a recipe for "Chunky Peach Preserves" and decided to give it my best shot.

Peeling the peaches was a breeze, and the first step of mixing the peaches with sugar and lemon juice seemed simple enough.

Cut peaches, then mixed with sugar and lemon juice

The mixture needed to sit for several hours until the sugar dissolved and the liquid became syrupy. Next came simmering the concoction until the syrup thickens slightly... I really hate directions that include the word "slightly"... how do you know when it is "slightly?" Then the syrup needed to sit in the fridge overnight.

Today I got to separate the syrup from the peaches, and boil the syrup a while. How do I know when it is done? I get to pour some on a cold plate, place it in the freezer, and then a few minutes later it should have a soft jelly consistency... mine sort-of had a soft jelly consistency.

The last step was to return the peaches to the syrup and cook everything until 220 degrees... but, gee, mine puttered out at 215 and refused to budge the other 5 degrees!!! So I jarred it anyway. I'll find out tomorrow how well my test jar is becoming "jelly"... does anyone like peach soup? Perhaps a jar of Peach Syrup for your pancakes and waffles?


  1. Peaches are my ultimate favorite summer fruit! Your peach cake looks awesome! Hope you win!

  2. We've been trying some canning this summer, too, and we've found that sometimes the temperature just *won't* get there. So far it hasn't mattered, but it is a bit puzzling.

    Best of luck with the contest!

  3. Your cake looks amazing! Bring some down and I'll swap you for some peach cobbler I made yesterday!