Friday, September 5, 2014

Peach Preserves

Years ago when Seed Savers Exchange first started they used to put out a book where it listed members that had plants and seeds that they were willing to share. I sent off one year and got three different things. Blackberries, Persimmon seeds and peach tree seeds. I sent the farmers/gardeners a small amount of money to cover shipping and they sent me seeds and cuttings to try. I got 4 peach tree seeds from an elderly man in the Georgia/Tennessee mountains that referred to these peaches as Indian Red or Indian peaches and said they were wild peaches. He said that they could be started from seeds, required little if any spraying and were extremely hardy. They grew in his fence line. He was telling the truth!

A decade and a half later those same peaches still grow on my farm. I find that the trees are not very long lived but bear for about a decade then seem to start to decline. The seeds were put into the freezer for a winter then taken out and planted in pots. Once they reached a certain height they were planted in their permanent homes and began bearing in about 3 years making small fruit the first year or two.  

Once the tree matures at about 5 years if the fruit is thinned and the tree is watered regularly the above picture gives you an idea of the fruit it bears.  Like most people I had always been told that fruit could not be started from trees. I had lots of land and nothing to lose. These trees have never been sprayed with anything ever. They do not do well in drought and extremely hot and dry weather the fruit will drop off. 

Now every year I get lots of emails from people wanting me to ship them this fruit. They want it to put into moonshine ??? I'm sorry I do not ship this fruit it is very fragile and does not ship well. I rarely have enough to ship anyway after my family gets what they want and I can the remains. I have occasionally sent seeds to friends. 

Although I do have several regular yellow peach trees these are our favorite peaches. 

I usually save the yellow peaches to preserve sliced peaches with because they pull away from the seeds (freestone). The white  (indian) peaches have to be cut away from the seeds.

The Indian peaches have white flesh with red veins running through them. They have a different taste than domestic peaches but taste wonderful in pies and preserves. 

When I have bumper crops I make wine with them. They make phenomenal wine and brandy!

This year we had a late frost and most of the domestic peaches have no fruit on them at all. The Indian peaches have a few hardy fruit that survived the frost to mature.  

So I have begun making preserves with what fruit I have that has started to ripen since I already have some sliced peaches in the pantry from last year. Usually this fruit ripens  in early August but it is now early September and due to extremely cool temperatures they are just now ripening with warmer temperatures finally showing up the last two weeks or so.  First I peel them and cut them away from the seeds. Then add sugar and lemon juice. 

8 cups fruit
4 cups sugar
1/2 cup lemon juice

Let the fruit sit for a couple hours with the sugar and just the natural juices keep stirring every so often. The sugar will melt and the juices will collect. The lemon juice helps to keep the fruit from darkening. 

This is the same ratio as I use on my plum preserves that I made a week or so ago. 

Then put the pot of peaches and sugar on the stove and let it come to a boil and boil for about 15 minutes then turn off and cool

Just a nice gentle rolling boil stirring often enough to keep everything from sticking. 

The next morning repeat.  

At noon repeat this process. See how the large chunks of fruit are starting to break down and the juices to thicken. 

That night repeat for the 4th cooking time. Now let it cool and put the lid on it. It should be nice and thick by this time and swimming with chunks of fresh fruit. 

The next morning I heat it back to boiling and let it boil for about 5 minutes stirring constantly to prevent sticking. Then I placed it in hot jars, wiped the lips of the jars to make sure there are no preserves on them and put on hot lids and rings. I placed my jars back in the hot water canner that I had warmed my jars in. Put the lid on the canner and bring it back to a boil and let my jars process in the hot water canner for about 15 minutes. Remove the jars and let cool until the jars seal. Place any unsealed jars in the refrigerator or eat immediately. 

As the peaches continue to ripen I hope to make several more batches of these preserves. My family love the taste and they make great peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. 

Well another Friday has rolled around. We are picking corn today for the freezer and bagging peppers for the freezer. I hope to see everyone on Monday if the " Good Lords willing and the creek don't rise".

Blessing from The Holler

The Canned Quilter


  1. iam 70 years old an I remember my dad an mom had them called them indian red . they have all died out now . O lord I wish I had some now was so good. brings back old memories. thanks

    1. I think a lot of older people remember them but I think there are very few anymore just growing wild in the fence rows and such. Soon they will be lost completely

  2. Would love to have a couple of those peach pits. ; ) I'd like to bring you some more raspberry plants if you could use them...we're overrun. Your jam is gorgeous.

    1. Kat I will save you and Prepper A some and we shall get together one day. I'll make us a lunch or something and us girls will catch up. Got family coming in to visit next week maybe after that! Hugs CQ

    2. Sounds wonderful! Would love to sit and visit a bit. So much to tell since our last visit. K ~

  3. Wow! So cool. The preserves are beautiful. I would never have thought of cooking it 4 times - is that what the difference between preserves and jam is?

    1. Edith as far as I know my jams I usually crush the fruit or most of it. Preserves usually have larger chunks of fruit with a super thick syrup made from the juices and sugar. Jellies are just the juice thickened. Although on these peach preserves I start out with larger chunks of fruit and deliberately kind of work the fruit as I cook it to chop the larger chunks down to smaller ones.

  4. Do you think your process of heating then sitting the jam would work if less sugar was used in the recipe? Just curious.

    1. I have never really tried to reduce the sugar. Give it a try!

  5. Thank you CQ, this is exactly what I needed to know!

  6. Do you use this same process for pears or do you have a favorite way to preserve pears? We were over run with pears this year!

  7. Years ago my parents bought a portion of an old farm stead with a newer home and an old orchard. My grandfather declared the peach trees were Indian peaches. They were white fleshed and red veined and had a wonderful flavor. I shall have to look for some of these seeds. Thank you for sharing about them in your post.


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