(clipart from Dover)
Mildred (yes, that Mildred) sent a bag of peaches into town via brother-in-law. They're smaller than commercially grown eating peaches, and tend to go from rock-hard to mushy in the blink of an eye.
Which is what prompted me to dig out Putting Foods By and re-read the chapter on fruit butters. I can't recommend this book too much; it's like having a domestic science teacher at your elbow explaining the process every step of the way.
Wash the fruit, stone it, cut out the bad bits and put it in a kettle with about a cup of water. Stew until the fruit pierces easily. If you have one of those nifty Italian tomato mills, which we do, run the pulp through, which will not only puree it, but remove the skin at the same time. '
If you don't, rub it through a colander, but you should probably peel the peaches before putting them in the kettle, or risk ending up with bits of peel in your peach butter.
Measure the pulp, add 1/2 cup sugar for every cup of pulp, and put it back on the stove to cook down. Fruit butters scorch easily and require a constant eye and frequent stirring, so I decided to try something I've seen in books and on the Internet, and put it in the crockpot with the lid off, and set it to low. I threw in a cinnamon stick, 1/2 t. allspice and 1/2 t. ground cloves for 2 quarts of pulp, and then...hedonist that I am...a vanilla pod that has been soaking in brandy all winter.
I can recommend this method only if you start it earlier in the day than I did. Once it is thick and glossy (which unfortunately turned into a two-day process because I started it so late) remove the vanilla pod and the cinammon stick, pour into hot sterilized pint or half pint jars and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. Any can that does not seal can be kept in the refrigerator for immediate consumption.
Oh, and I made salsa, and the spousal unit made tomato sauce, so the whole house smells like an open-air market.