|Save your peach peelings and lemon rinds|
to make jelly and syrup, but discard the pits.
Additionally, inspired by Gilt Taste's popular Eat Shoots & Leaves series - especially this IACP award-winning apple peel edition by Sheri Castle - I decided to save all the peach peelings and most of the lemon rinds to make stock for jelly and syrup. The results are as righteous as they are delicious.
1 750 ml bottle of vodka
5 lbs. peaches
2 cinnamon sticks
10 strips lemon zest
2 sealable gallon-size containers
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
Select a brand of vodka you would drink in public, but not an expensive top label. Pour four cups vodka into each of the gallon containers; add a cinnamon stick and 5 slices of lemon zest to each.
Blanch peaches, peel and cut into chunks; reserve peels but discard pits, which contain a trace amount of cyanide. Divide fruit equally among containers. Secure lids and set aside in a cool, not sunny location. Turn container over every day for a full week.
Strain mix first through mesh colander to gather majority of the juice, then run the juice through a jelly bag; transfer to clean sealable gallon container. Transfer peaches from colander to jelly bag and all to drip for at least an hour. Press lightly to get the last drips, but avoid the urge to squeeze as liqueur can turn cloudy. Pour liquid into a gallon container. (Note, The fruit likely will have given its best to the infusion, but sample a bite before you decide whether to discard or use for another purpose, such as mashing and adding to homemade barbecue sauce.)
Add cooled syrup to peach mixture in the container. Seal and set aside in a cool, not sunny location, swirling occasionally, for 4-6 weeks (or more, if you lose track). If necessary, strain one more time before serving to remove any remaining sediment. Transfer to smaller bottles to enjoy or give as gifts.
Lemony Peach Jelly and Syrup
Peach peelings from about 20 pounds of peaches
Rinds reserved from about 8 juiced lemons
Reserved blanching water
About 10 cups water
6-8 cups sugar, divided
2 packages low-sugar pectin (such as Sure-Jel)
Makes two batches of jelly, each yielding 5 half-pints, with remaining stock boosted into a light syrup to flavor soda water.
Place reserved peelings, reserved blanching water and fresh water in a stock pot. Bring to a boil over meidum-high heat, then reduce to a simmer. Bubble for about an hour, or until stock is richly colored and fragrant.
Carefully transfer hot mixture to a jelly strainer set over a large pot. Allow to drip undisturbed four about an hour. Gently press obvious juice from the bag, being careful to not release sediment that will cloud the jelly. Discard remains from jelly bag.
You'll need 3 cups of peach stock, 3 cups of sugar and 1 package of low-sugar pectin per batch of jelly. Pour stock into a wide, heavy-bottom pot of dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add pectin and 1/4 cup sugar, stir constantly until fully blended. Bring mixture to a full rolling boil, then add remaining sugar. Stir often until mixture returns to a full rolling boil. Watch the clock or count off 60 seconds, then remove the pot from heat.
|Peach syrup in soda water (pre-stir)|
Measure remaining peach stock an 1 cup sugar for every 2 cups stock, or more if you prefer a sweeter syrup. Transfer mix to a medium pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to ensure that sugar is well incorporated. Remove from heat and, when cool, transfer to a sealable bottle and refrigerate.
Fill a tall glass with ice. Pour in about 3 tablespoons syrup then top with soda water and stir. Garnish with a peach slice, if you have any left, or spike with a splash of vodka.
Note: If you want a thicker, pancake-style syrup, boil the mixture to reduce to desired consistency. Remove from heat and, when cool, transfer to a sealable bottle and refrigerate.