Preserving peaches, made easy
If I associate any fruit with summer, it’s the peach. The smell of it, the colors like a warm sunset – it reminds me of my grandparents’ “pueblo,” and the jar collection my grandmother used to keep in the pantry.
Her pantry was a place I used to slip into, thinking I was invisible. The place was a sanctuary. I would sit there smelling the aromas, dazed by all the food at hand.
That was the place where I used to steal my precious caramel, chocolate, delicious sweets. I overdosed on sugar then, and sometimes I think that’s why I’m able to resist those temptations now.
My grandfather had a small orchard, kind of far from the pueblo. Among other things, he grew peach trees there. This particular part of Spain (forgotten by most everybody but surrealist filmmaker Luis Buñuel) is excellent for growing peaches. They’re so sweet that farmers have to cover the fruits with paper bags to discourage the birds from flying down for a feast. I used to help my grandfather cover the peaches. He would pay me a pesata (about 30 cents) per bag. I was six years old, and if I could use the money to buy a few lollipops I was happy. What really made me happy though was my grandfather’s pride in me.
After the peaches were harvested, my grandmother’s job began. She preserved the fruits so we could enjoy the peaches year round. This recipe is dedicated to my grandma and grandpa, Pilar and José.
• Sterilized jars (boil them for 30 minutes without the lid – do the same with the lids but in different water)
• Peaches, as many as you have. Because we cannot predict how big or small the harvest will be, or the quantity of the peaches, this recipe prepares for one liter of syrup; adjust your quantities accordingly.
• 1 liter of water
• Half a kilogram of sugar
• The juice of half a lemon
First, scald the peaches in boiling water for one minute. Put them in cold water afterwards. Peel them, and cut them in half following the fruit’s natural line. Cut down until you feel the pit, then move the knife around the pit and remove it. Next, put the peaches into the jars. Third, we need to submerge the peaches in syrup. Heat the water and sugar, until the water becomes thick. Add the lemon juice and cook for five more minutes. Fill the jars with the syrup, trying not to leave space. Close the jars and heat them in a water bath for 15 minutes.
Take the jars out of the water and place them upside down for around 12 hours to let them cool down completely.
Voilà, peach preserves. You can eat them for up to one year.
Tip for a dessert: Set peach halves on a plate, add some cream mixed with vanilla or cinnamon, top with nuts and caramel, and enjoy!