Maui Girl Cooks

“One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.” Luciano Pavarotti

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“The ripest peach is highest on the tree.”  James Whitcomb Riley
Kihei sunset
Independence Day sunset at Kamaole III Beach Park Kihei.  Hope you had a great 4th!  In Maui, it pretty much feels like summer all year round; we do not have to “earn” our summer, like our friends and family in the Pacific Northwest, it’s just here for us to relish.  Sometimes I have to think about what time of year it is, because we don’t have the distinct seasonal changes.  Flowers flourish freely, as if without effort.  Fresh produce is plentiful and available whenever one wants to indulge.

Bowl of PeachesI was delighted to see flats of peaches in the store the other day.  I knew just what we would do with them-make peach preserves.  Actually, what we make is more like a cross between peach preserves and peach sauce.  Lest you think that I was going to heat up the kitchen with a pot of golden peaches bubbling away in sugary syrup, and a boiling water canner to safely preserve them, let me set the record straight.  First of all, my husband is the chief preserve maker in our house.  I may assist with determining doneness, or deciding if it needs a little thickener, but he is always the one that says, “Let’s make preserves!”

When we moved to Washington State, in 1988, I became a Master Food Preserver {now called Food Safety Advisor} through the County Extension Office.  I learned the myriad ways of preserving food safely, and did quite a bit of preserving when we had a large garden and the time required to do it.  Now, we make delicious preserves quickly and easily, in about 30 minutes.  Not only are they delicious, they are healthier because you can make them with far less sugar.  The only downside of preserves made this way is that they are not keepers; they need to be eaten within a week’s time.

Homemade Peach Preserves
1 quart peaches, cut into eighths {you can leave the skins on!}
1 tbsp sugar, more or less to taste
Juice from ½ a lemon, about 2 tbsp, to taste
Pinch salt, preferably sea salt

Put the peaches, sugar, lemon juice & salt in saucepan.  Cook over medium low heat until it comes to a boil.  When mixture boils, turn the heat down to low so you have a slow bubble.  The objective is to “cook off” the water, so that the mixture thickens and becomes syrupy.

Peaches in Pot final

Do not cover the pan, or the water will not be able to evaporate.  You want to preserve the fresh, bright flavor of the peaches, so if you cook them too long, they will taste “brown.”  When the mixture has thickened, and tastes good to you, it is done.  You can leave the mixture as is, or mash is with a fork to break up the larger pieces of fruit.  The preserves will be thinner than store bought or traditionally prepared preserves, so if you want them to be thicker, add a cornstarch slurry {mix 2 tsp cornstarch to 2 tsp water} to thicken them up.  They will thicken up a bit when they are refrigerated.

Peach preserves in bowl final

You can make preserves this way with most fruits, but be aware that each fruit differs in the amount of water and pectin, so preserves will cook up differently.

Enjoy your preserves with toast, in plain yogurt {who needs that presweetened yogurt??} or any other way you like.  I have a fantastic banana muffin recipe I’ll be sharing soon that would be fantastic with some salted butter & peach preserves.  Yum!

One more thing. . .
. . .you may not want to use up your whole flat of peaches for preserves.  Here is what we do with them-we cut them in eighths, then put them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment or waxed paper {they will stick to the cookie sheet and be hard to remove if you don’t line it}.
Peaches for freezing final

Pop in the freezer until they are frozen, then bag them up.  We got 2 gallons of frozen peaches from 16 peaches, so we will be enjoying sunny peach preserves in January!