Day 4 – Peach Lavender Butter (Jam)

11 Jul

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Day 4:  Today was a good day.  I woke up early and ran out to the fruit stand  (before it rained) to buy some peaches for this recipe.  I wanted to get the peaches at the Farmers’ Market, but I could not get there.  The idea for this recipe originated from my boyfriend who was recently in Nice staying with a friend.  Early in the morning, before his flight home, Julie ran out to pick up fresh pastries and paired them with her homemade Peach Lavender butter.  Now, Mike and I had just spent an entire week in Morocco, and while I flew back to NYC he had to fly to Nice for a day or two.  When he got home, after not seeing each other for two days, one of the first things he said was, “Julie made this amazing lavender butter.  I could get the recipe if you want!”  For a man who does not ask for much, this was a pretty upfront request.  The rest is history.  Julie (thank you!) sent us this recipe, which Mike devoured in France, and now can enjoy with our scones and lemon curd on Saturday morning.  I just hope the pastries are as good as those in Nice!

Julie noted that the recipe came from Homemade Living: Canning & Preserving with Ashley English.  The recipe was intended to yield 6 pint sized containers, but I halved the recipe, as it is just the two of us here.  Halving still produced a entire mason jar with a little bit left over.  Below, I am listing the recipe as Ashley English intended.  If you would like to halve it, please do so on your own!

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Ingredients

  • 3 pounds peaches (I used 4 large peaces for 1.5 pounds)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons fresh or dried lavender buds
  • 3 tablespoons bottled lemon juice (it has to be bottled to ensure sufficient acidity, as juice from lemons can vary in pH)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon zest (I zested one lemon)
  • 3 cups granulated sugar

Directions

1.  Blanch the peaches for 30 seconds in boiling water & immediately follow with ice bath.  When they are cool enough to handle, peel, pit and chop.  **Most I could peel solely with my fingers, but some needed a knife.**
2.  Bring 1/3  cup of water to boil.  Place lavender buds in a small bowl.  Pour in the boiling water, cover, and steep for 15 minutes.  Strain the liquid through a mesh sieve and set aside.
3.  Wash and prep jars and lids (sterilize & warm lids if you’re properly canning, or just wash everything in warm water.)  **I just washed in warm water because I am not canning it.  Although, one day I hope to begin canning my own jams.**
4.  Combine lavender water, peaches, lemon juice, and zest in a heavy, medium, stainless-steel saucepan.  Bring to boil over med-high heat.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, until the peach mixture thickens and clings to a spoon.  Remove from heat.
5.  Once the peach mixture has cooled slightly, either press it through a food mill of fine-meshed sieve or puree using a food processor or immersion blender.  I used an immersion blender, which worked beautifully and did not take much time.
6.  Return the puree to the pan, add the sugar and lavender buds, and bring the mixture to a gentle boil over medium heat.  Stir continually until the sugar is completely dissolved.  Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered 25 minutes.  **I lost track of time here (selling on eBay) and my butter boiled for a long while.  It still looks and tastes okay, but be careful!**
7.  If canning, can with 1/2″ or 1.3 cm head space, removing air bubbles, etc. and process for 10 minutes in boiling water bath.  **I did not do this.  Instead I just spooned the butter into clear mason jars and placed it into the fridge.  If we do not eat it in the next couple of days, I may attempt putting it into the freezer.  Julie said she puts it right into the freezer, so I am assuming I can do so as well.**
Variations: substitute an equal amount of peeled nectarines for the peaches.  To introduce an additional layer of flavor, add 1/2 t ground allspice, 1/2 t cloves, and 1 t ground cinnamon.  **I did not try any of these, but may in the future.**
Outcome
I loved this recipe.  I loved the fresh ingredients.  I loved the aroma my kitchen/apartment took on.  I love that I have fresh jam in the refrigerator and do not need to buy any pre-made jam.  And, surprisingly, it was easy to make.  While preparing this recipe I had the realization that I do not need to buy any pre-canned jams, sauces, or jellies anymore.  I have thought about this in the past, as we have attempted to eat less processed foods.  But, you never really feel powerful enough to make all of your own foods until you give it a try and realize how easy it can be – this week I have seen this!  I can easily make many of the prepackaged foods that I have relied on over the years.  And, when you make your own food, you enjoy it more!  Actively participating in a process, you become more invested, and it tastes better!
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