Thursday, August 6, 2015

Cinnamon Spiced Peach Peel Jelly

I love to can things that allow me to use ingredients that would otherwise be discarded.  Recently I was faced with a 20 pound box of peaches from the folks at Sweet Preservation and the Washington State Fruit Commission as well as four quarts of local peaches I already had on hand. 

I decided to freeze the four quarts of peaches to use in oatmeal, cobblers, and the like throughout the winter. I peeled them, sliced them, and tossed them with a little sugar before dividing them into quart bags.  

The rest of the peaches (20 pounds), I peeled, halved, and canned in a very light sugar syrup.  We like to eat peaches like this straight out of the jar.  

When I got started on those peaches, I had it in my mind to peel them by dunking them in boiling water and then in an ice bath.  This allows the skins to slip off easily and without much effort.  I changed my mind though and decided to peel them by hand.  The peaches were absolutely huge with each one weighing in at about 3/4 of a pound (sorry I don't have a picture), and I thought that if I peeled them by hand I would have a little more meat left next to the peel.  

Now, in the world of canning (or cooking for that matter), you generally do not want fruit taken away when you peel it, but my thoughts on this were that in peeling by hand and inevitably removing just a bit of the meat of the peach, I would have very flavorful peels to make peach peel jelly.  

I had read about peach peel jelly before, although I could not find a recipe from any official sources such as National Center for Home Food Preservation. I knew peach peel jelly to be something traditionally made to prevent waste and to create something with nothing.  That sounded good to me.  I had also read negative reviews though that stated that the peach peels did not lend enough flavor to make a strong, peachy juice.  

Peach juice after straining
I decided to try to remedy that by peeling by hand.  I washed my peaches well, peeled them by hand, and tossed the peels in a large pot along with three (4 inch) cinnamon sticks.  I covered the peels with water, brought the mixture to a boil, simmered for 10 minutes, and turned off the heat.  I then allowed the mixture to cool on the counter for a few hours.  I refrigerated the cooled mixture overnight allowing my peach peels to steep even longer. 

Peach juice and enough sugar for two batches waiting to be made into jelly

In the morning, I strained the solids from the liquid, and then strained the liquid through a clean, white pillow case to remove all sediment.  You could strain through cheesecloth, but you will most likely need to do it several times to remove all solids.  A jelly bag would also work well if you have one. 

Cinnamon Spiced Peach Peel Jelly

Once strained, I had clear, pink peach juice.  I measured my juice into 3 cup portions (I got 6 cups of juice total- enough for two batches).  You do not want to double the recipe as the jelly may not set up as well in double batches.  I made one batch, spooned it into my jars, and then made another batch.  The first and second batches then went into the canner together for 5 minutes.  

The results are a sweet, very peachy, and slightly spiced jelly.  It reminds me of peach cobbler.  It is absolutely delicious and a great way to use something that would otherwise be discarded.  By the way, the chickens enjoyed the peels the next morning after I strained the juice.  

Cinnamon Spiced Peach Peel Jelly- makes 4 half-pints

Note: You must begin this recipe the day before you plan to make the jelly so that your juice is ready. The juice recipe that follows makes enough juice for at least 2 batches of jelly.   You can make as much or as little juice as you want by following the same directions and just adjusting quantities. 

3 cups peach juice made with 3 (4 inch) cinnamon sticks
1 box powdered pectin
3 cups sugar
To make peach juice the day before:  Combine the peels of approximately 20 pounds of peaches with 3 (4 inch long) cinnamon sticks, and enough water to just cover.  Bring to a boil.  Simmer 10 minutes.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool.  Refrigerate overnight.  In the morning, strain the solids, and then strain the juice through a clean pillowcase, jelly bag, or several layers of cheesecloth until the juice is clear.  You may need to repeat straining process several times.  Measure out 3 cups of peach juice for each batch of jelly.  
For the Jelly: Combine the peach juice and pectin in a large pot on medium high heat.  Bring to a boil.  Add sugar all at once, stir to combine, and bring to a full rolling boil.  Continue to boil until the mixture reaches 220 degrees and sheets off of a spoon.  This may take anywhere from 3 to 5 minutes.  

Pour jelly into half-pint jars, top with lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes.