Sometimes you make something so incredibly good that you are almost ashamed to admit that it was, in fact, incredibly easy. There are some things that I have spent hours, days, or weeks on – only to result in “meh” type feelings. Thankfully, there are also some things that I spend a few minutes on and walk away – to later discover that “awesomeness” just happened. Such was the case with this slow cooker peach butter with vanilla bean.
So. Much. AWESOMENESS.
I have made many incarnations of peach jam – each probably messier and stickier than the last. I even received a second degree burn from some molten and wildly bubbling jam on stove top of questionable heat consistency. Ouch. However, all resulted in perfectly serviceable and tasty peach jams. But the process of pealing, slicing, chopping and boiling – all usually during the hottest days of summer – is far from appealing, no pun intended. This, my friends, is the charm of a peach BUTTER. Butters are low fuss. Translation: No PEAL.
Now that’s appealing.
This slow cooker peach butter with vanilla bean recipe really couldn’t get much easier. Cut peaches in half, pluck out that brain-y looking pit, put halves in blender, pour puree into slow cooker/crock-pot, add other ingredients and walk away. I repeat WALK AWAY. In fact, the less you fuss with this peach butter, the better it will be.
I like to use freestone peach varieties like Veteran, Redhaven and Golden Jubilee for preservation. Prying out a stubborn stone is no fun task. Butters differ from jams in that the fruit is cooked down, generally slowly, until it thickens and even carmelizes some. Butters are often made with apples, pears and peaches, skin intact – seeds or pits removed, puréed to a smooth texture. Left to reduce for about 18 hours, this slow cooker peach butter with vanilla bean gets rather caramel-y and sinful. Stirred rather infrequently, the peaches and added sugar caramelize and take on a very rich and complex flavor. Added lemon juice helps to offset the caramel-y sweetness and ensures a safe canning pH (approximately 3.5 with my calibrated pH meter).
My first sampling of the peach butter, reduced overnight, left me recalling moments of greedy satisfaction with a tub of caramel sauce. But with a peach-y, vanilla-y twist. While not altogether necessary, the addition of vanilla bean really ups the sinful ante – and to very good ends. Now that I have a couple batches of this peach butter put up (hoarded, whatever), I am looking forward to drizzling this over butter pecan ice cream and maybe mixed with homemade cream cheese to fill a Danish.
Or maybe I will eat it all with a spoon, all by myself. Don’t judge.
Slow Cooker Peach Butter with Vanilla Bean Recipe
- 16 cups fresh peach puree
- 2-3 cups of organic cane sugar or honey, to taste
- 1¼ cups lemon juice
- 2 vanilla beans
- To prepare the peaches, simply remove pit and puree in blender or food processor.
- Split vanilla beans in half and scrape beans from pod. Place all ingredients into a large stockpot, including scraped vanilla pod. If the capacity of your stockpot is not sufficient, you may have to wait for adequate reduction before adding all the desired sweetener or lemon juice.
- Reduce in a partially covered slow cooker crock on low heat for 12-18 hours. Stir somewhat infrequently, allowing browning and carmelization around the edges. When peach butter is reduced by approximately ⅓, remove spent vanilla pods and discard.
- Scrape down side of crock. To ensure smoothness, re-puree with an immersion blender.
- Ladle into sterilized half pint jars, leaving ½" head room. Wipe rims clean and place prepared lids and rings onto jars, finger tight.
- Process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes at a full boil. After processing, remove jars from canner and allow to cool . undisturbed, for 24 hours. Check for seal and store in a cool and dark place for up to a year.