It's Peachy Keen, Vanilla Bean

Brian and I headed out the Ballard Farmers Market a few weeks ago. I knew that peaches and other stone fruits were in their height so I had to have some. Okay, not just some. I needed a lot. As I scoured the fruit stands I found one that had peaches and nectarines that tasted perfect.  As I purchased a case of peaches (18 lb. to be exact) and a large bag of nectarines (7 lb. worth) I remembered that we had walked there. So with my abundance of fruit and other veggies for the week we headed back home - six blocks to be exact. Brian joined me in one of my totally vagabond moments trekking home lugging all of that fruit.

Why do I do these things? I had a real keen idea this year. Well, I must be honest; it came to me last year and much too late. The idea was to make my own jams and preserves for my family and friends to give them at the holidays. I thought of it after the height of the berries and when the lovely stone fruits were long gone.  I also had no experience with canning and I was a bit apprehensive to the matter. So what did I do? Off to the book store to pick up some books on canning and jamming to learn all I can.

Of course I have spent my time reading and researching all I can on this subject. I found many videos on the internet to assist my way through the process. I purchased some jars and sugar, and now had the fruit. I was ready to give it a try. I made a batch of peach jam, and a very large batch of preserved peach slices in a vanilla bean syrup.  After all the jamming, cooking, jarring, and canning were done I owed Brian a treat for lugging that case of peaches all the way home for me. I put a jar of the preserved peaches in the fridge in the morning to chill, and I made a small batch of vanilla ice cream. After dinner I surprised him with a bowl of the ice cream and some of the chilled peaches and vanilla bean syrup to top it off. It was delicious and definitely worth the six blocks he carried them. The recipe of the Preserved Vanilla Bean Peaches is below and the Vanilla Ice Cream recipe is to follow.

 

Preserved Vanilla Bean Peaches (makes 12 pint size jars)

16 # of peaches (peeled, pitted, and either halved or sliced)

5 cups of Sugar

5 cups of water

1 Vanilla Bean; split and seeds scraped

1 tbsp of lemon juice

First; place your peach slices or halves in a bowl and toss with the lemon juice. This will prevent the peaches from browning. Set the bowl aside and cover if you feel needed.

Next; make vanilla simple syrup from your sugar, water and vanilla bean. In a large pot (8 quarts) place your sugar, vanilla bean and the seeds. Stir well and add in the water. Place the pot over medium heat and bring to a boil. You are looking to have all of your sugar crystals dissolve and you will end up with vanilla infused syrup.

Then; you want to have your vanilla syrup at a simmer. Working in batches you want to blanch your peach halves or slices for two minutes – no longer. After blanching remove the peached from the syrup set aside in another bowl. Do not get rid of the syrup, you will need it for later.

Following; you will want to have your jars sterilized and warm. Fill the jars with your blanched peaches until you are within ½ inch from the jar top. Be sure to fit them in as snugly as possible. Pour over the top of the peaches the reserved vanilla bean syrup until you reach about ¼ inch from the top of your jar. Tap each jar and be sure to free any air bubbles of pockets that may be trapped within.

Finally; place a warmed lid on top of each filled jar (only after being sure the top of each jar is cleaned and wiped free of any spillage). Tighten the rings around lids to the jar and submerge the covered jars in boiling water for ten minutes. Carefully remove the jars from the water and let cool. Check the jars within an hour or two to be sure a proper seal has been made. If not, you might need to retry your sealing and processing of the lids. Once sealed, jars are good for 1 year in a cool dark place.

*Note: You can use any size jars, but keep in mind the size of the peach slices to size of the jar. In my opinion the bigger the jar you will benefit - more preserved peaches for you.

Vanilla Ice Cream ( serves 6 – 8 )

1 2/3 cup of whole milk

2/3 cup of sugar

3 eggs

1 tbsp of vanilla extract

1 ¼ cup of cream

Pinch of kosher salt

First, in a heavy bottom 2 or 4 quart pan heat your milk over medium heat until tiny bubbles form around the edge. When you see the bubbles forming remove your pot from the heat.  Meanwhile in a bowl whisk together the sugar and the eggs until it is smooth and pale yellow in color.

Then, pour a bit of your heated milk into your sugar and egg mixture while whisking. This is called tempering. Once your egg and sugar mixture is whisked with the bit of heated milk you can add the rest of the heated milk to the mixture and pour it all back into your heavy bottomed pan.  Place your pan back over a medium heat and continually stir your milk mixture until it thickens and coats the back of a spoon.

Next, pour your mixture though a fine strainer in order to remove any lumps that may have formed. Into your strained mixture stir in your heavy cream, salt, and extract into it as well. Place your mixture in the refrigerator for at least 6 – 8 hour (overnight works too) to thoroughly chill.

After, your milk mixture is chilled pour it all into an ice cream maker and follow the directions from the manufacture. Once all is carried through you will have beautiful vanilla ice cream. You can serve it right away or you can freeze until needed.