The peaches have been just great this year in Ontario and the northern US too.I wanted to get a head-start on recipes, and with fruit such a hugely important part of the Georgian larder, and in so many delicious ways, I wanted to start with two Georgian fruit preserves.
I made sour cherry moraba, delicious, but not quite as thick-syruped as those I had in Georgia. I am still working out why that is.
And I made peach kompot. It was entirely successful, thanks to my friend Tamar Babuadze in Tbilisi, who consulted several friends and their mothers too and passed on their instructions and advice. The peach kompot I had tasted in Georgia, made in Kutaisi by Elena’s ninety-one year old grandmother from peaches from her garden, was my standard. That came in a large wide-mouthed jar, and consisted of whole peaches floating in a pale pink very light and unbelievably delicious syrup. But the jars I had, one-litre jars, had mouths that were too small to take the large ripe organic Niagara peaches I had bought at the farmers’ market.
No problem said Tamar, of course you can cut them.
And so I did. She also told me that peeling them was optional. I peeled some, and left some unpeeled (just well washed); I prefer the look of the unpeeled ones, I’ve decided.
I posted on FB and was asked to supply the recipe. So here arethe instructions in a slightly rough and ready format.
Be sure to get all your equipment ready first, and to follow the canning instructions, or substitute instructions from a reliable canning cookbook or handbook. The acidity of peaches is nice and high, so they don’t need a very long boil in the canner, unlike lower-acidity foods.
Get ready the following:
- 1 quart/1 litre glass canning jars or substitute 650 ml (20 ounce) jars; for each 6 quart basket of peaches allow 3 large jars. Or you can use smaller 2-cup jars.
- Two-part lids for each jar, new ones, with no rust or nicks out of them
- A canner, or substitute a very large tall* pot with a lid, and also a rack in the bottom that the jars can stand on. (*How tall? You need to be able to boil the jars in the pot, with an inch or more of water covering them.) Check to see how many of your jars fit at one time on the rack in the canner.
- Tongs for lifting the jars out of the boiling water
- A large heavy tray or baking sheet and a rack that fits on it (to place the jars on to cool once they have been processed)
Ripe peaches, preferably organic, at least one 6-quart basket
Sugar: 1 cup of sugar per litre/quart jar; 2/3 cup sugar per 20 ounce/650 ml jar; ½ cup sugar for every 2 cup/500 ml jar.
Kettle of boiling water
Wash the jars and lids in very hot soapy water, and rinse well, or wash them in a dishwasher, then fill them partway with hot water and place them on a tray by your stovetop.
Place a rack in the canner or tall pot, fill the canner or pot with hot water, and place on the stove.
Wash the peaches well in hot water. Cut out any bruised patches and trim off any stems. If you wish, peel them (I think it’s prettier to leave the peel on). If the peaches are too large to fit through the mouths of the jars, cut off chunks leaving pieces as large as possible; I leave in the pits too.
Working with one jar at a time, empty out the hot water, then fill the jar with peaches, not forcing or bruising the fruit. When the jar is half full, add half the sugar needed for that size of jar (see above). Then add more peaches to fill the jar, and then other half of the sugar.
Pour in boiling water from the kettle, pausing to allow bubbles to rise to the surface, until the water is up to the jar neck. Place on a flat lid and screw on the other piece of lid, until just tight, not extremely so. Repeat with the other jars until you have filled as many as will fit in the canner.
Place jars in the canner, being sure that they are upright and not on a tilt. The water should be covering the jars by a generous 1 inch or more. Add water if needed. Put on the canner/pot lid and bring the water in the canner to a rolling boil. Once it is boiling, you can lower the heat a little, just so long as a boil is maintained. Boil for ten minutes.
Place a rack on your counter or on a baking sheet, then lift the jars out carefully, keeping them vertical, and place on the rack to cool.
(If you have a second batch to do, repeat the jar-filling and boiling process.)
After ten minutes or so you should hear each jar lid go “pop” or “click” as it seals. Once that happens, take off the rims and wipe off the glass, then put them back on and tighten a little. Let the jars cool completely, then label them and store in a cool dark place.
The liquid will gradually get infused with peach flavour. This nectar is a real treat in the wintertime. So are the peaches.