As the summer draws to an end, so does peak produce season here in Birmingham. You can enjoy those summer flavors all year-round with these recipes, from peach preserves to fig butter. Don’t miss out!
1. Just Peachy
Preserves can be a bit intimidating, but if you do it once, you’ve pretty much got it down. These jars of deliciousness make fantastic gifts, treats and pantry staples. Here’s how to do it with one of Alabama’s favorite summer fruits: peaches.
- 5-6 pint-sized jars with lids
- Large stock pot with rack
- Jar lifter to safely transfer the jars
- 11 lbs peaches rinsed
- 4 cups white sugar
- 1 lemon juiced
Prep + Making the Preserves
- Blanch peaches. Fill 2/3 of a large soup pot with water. Bring to a boil. Add peaches for 30-45 seconds, then remove with slotted spoon and transfer immediately to a large bowl of cold water.
- Peel the skin, cut the peaches into quarters and remove pits.
- Place all peeled peaches in a large soup pot and squeeze in juice of 1 lemon. Drizzle well with 2 cups sugar, toss and drizzle again with the remaining 1.5-2 cups so the sugar reaches all the peaches.
- Let peaches sit at room temp with the sugar for about 30min-1 hour, or until sugar is dissolved.
- Place the pot over the stove uncovered and bring to a light boil, stirring to prevent scorching. Once the whole pot is at a light boil, simmer for 10 minutes and turn off the heat. Let the pot stand uncovered until it is just warm to the touch or reaches room temp.
- As soon as it cools, repeat step 3. You will bring it to a light boil a total of 5 times, but the time between is up to you. Preserves have plenty of sugar, so they won’t spoil at room temp if you leave it on the counter overnight. If you want the preserves to have an even thicker consistency, you can boil it 6 times.
- The last time you bring it to a boil you will want to transfer it to sterilized jars while it’s boiling hot.
Sterilize + Store
- Wash jars and let them dry in the oven at 215 for about 20 min or until completely dry. Boil the lids 5 min.
- Transfer your boiling hot preserves to the jars using a glass measuring cup, leaving about 1/2″ space.
- Screw the lids on enough to keep a tight seal in place, but don’t over-tighten them since air bubbles need to be able to escape.
- Place packed cans into the canning pot and cover with 1-2 inches of water. Bring to a boil and process 15 minutes. Remove from the pot with a jar lifter and leave at room temperature undisturbed for 12-24 hours. You may hear a pop when the jars fully seal.
- After 24 hours, check that the seal has formed by pushing down on the center of the lid—it should not move at all. If the seal does not form, refrigerate preserves and enjoy within 3 months.
2. Strawberry Fields Forever
If you spent your summer checking out one of Birmingham’s fantastic strawberry farms, you may have an abundance of these sweet berry treats. Strawberry jam is a classic, and it goes on pretty much anything. Plus, it’s super easy to make.
- 1 lb fresh strawberries
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp lemon zest (optional)
- Wash and slice the strawberries, removing the hulls and green tops.
- Add them to a saucepan, and mix the sugar in well. Stir continually over medium heat, and bring the strawberries to boil.
- Once boiling, add the lemon juice and zest.
- Boil for about 15 minutes, or until the jam reaches 220. Stir often, to make sure the jam doesn’t burn.
- Pour into a jar and allow to cool. Cover and refrigerate.
- Use within about 2 weeks.
3. Getting Figgy in the Kitchen
Ah, figs. Another delicious summer fruit, but one that’s a bit underrated, in my opinion. This fig butter is made in the crockpot, which gives it automatic brownie points in my book.
- 6 cups figs w/ stems removed
- 3/4 cup sweet white wine
- 3/4 cup honey
- 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- Add everything to a 2 quart crockpot and cook on high for 2 hours.
- Using a large spoon or potato masher, mash figs until all whole figs are broken down.
- Crack the lid to let the steam escape and turn crockpot down to low and continue to cook for 6 – 8 hours.
- Fill hot jars with butter, add lids and put them in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.