Peach preserves are sweet-flavored fruit preserves that are made from fresh peaches and sugar; cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves are often also added to spice up the flavor. Peaches are not long-lasting fruits and preserving peaches in this manner is one of the only ways the fruits can be enjoyed in the off-season. The peach preserves may be eaten directly, they may be used to make other peach dishes, or they may be consumed with cakes, pies, ice-creams, jellies, sandwiches and cereals.
To make peach preserves, fresh, ripe and unblemished clingstone and freestone peaches are generally used; the former are considered the better choice as they are the firmer of the two. The selected peaches are washed and then a cut is made at the bottom of each. These peaches are then first placed in hot, boiling water for 35 to 40 seconds, and then scooped out and placed in ice-cold water. This is done to blanch the fruit and make it easier to peel off the skin.
Next, the skinned peaches are halved and the stones are removed. The fruits are then cut into small pieces; for those that want smooth, jam-like peach preserves, the fruit pieces can also be processed into a smooth blend in a food processor. Sprinkle granulated sugar on the peaches and squeeze on some lemon juice. Stir the pieces or the blend until the sugar has dissolved, and then cover the bowl with a plastic wrap and set aside overnight. Some people like to refrigerate the peaches overnight, but this is not really necessary.
The peaches are then boiled on high heat, while being constantly stirred to prevent them from burning or sticking to the pan. After 15 to 20 minutes, when the peaches have softened and the syrup has started to thicken, remove the pan from heat and allow the preserve to cool. The peach preserve is now ready to be filled into jars that have been well-sterilized.
For sterilizing the jars and their lids, they need to be immersed in boiling water and kept in it until the peach preserve is ready to be filled in. The jars and the lids should be cooled and then the preserves should be spooned in, leaving a space of about one-fourth inch at the top. The lids need to be screwed on tightly after filling, and the peach preserve jars will do well if stored in a cool, dark and dry place. The preserve will usually last for up to a year. Opened jars of peach preserves should be kept in the refrigerator and consumed within a month.