I have fond memories of driving to another state every summer with my GrandDaddy, simply because an orchard there had Red Haven peaches. It may also have had something to do with their willingness to deeply discount “overripes,” which are perfect for making preserves. Once we were back on the farm, GrandBobbie and I would heat water in the canning kettle and start peeling and chopping the peaches, which she did by hand and without a cutting board, over a bowl to catch the drips. For most preserves, she used whatever recipe came in the SureJell box, but she also made a type of peach preserves that was only peaches, sugar, and lemon juice. It’s the easiest preserves I’ve made, tastes the best, and is easy enough to be done on a week night with ingredients on hand. This recipe is also forgiving in that you can make as much or as little as you like, depending on the number of peaches available. For this batch, my mother just brought some peaches from the local orchard, and some needed to be used right away. In total, eight peaches went into this batch, and it made two jelly jars and one pint jar. To skim, I use a French tool for stock making called an écumière, available at E. Dehillerin.
GrandBobbie’s Peach Preserves
Peel and chop peaches into a food processor. Pulse until they are in small chunks. Measure out peaches into a large saucepan or pot with half of the amount of sugar as peaches. Also add the zest and juice of a lemon for roughly every dozen peaches. Bring to a boil and reduce to medium heat. Skim off any foam. Enjoy your peach facial, stirring often, until the liquid is thick and reaches the consistency of preserves (about 20 minutes). When the peaches are ready, they will take on a glassy appearance with a deep red-orange color. You should feel them just beginning to stick to the bottom of the pan.
Fill prepared jars. Cover with lids and finger tighten bands. Process for 10 minutes. Turn off heat, remove the lid, and allow jars to cool in the water for 10 minutes. Remove jars and allow them to rest undisturbed overnight. Refrigerate any unsealed jars.