Ruminations and Roasted Peach Butter

What if trials are really blessings not yet ripe enough to pick? Roasted Peach Butter Recipe

I had great plans two weeks ago tomorrow. I was going to take about twelve pounds of spectacular peaches and put them up for Christmastime, rust-colored fragrant Summer preserved in pint jars for spreading on winter biscuits.

It would have been fine, I'm sure, just the way I planned it, just fine. Then what felt like a catastrophe at the time became the catalyst to something better. A finish-up dental appointment went nuclear and left me looped out on serious pain meds long past when--by my schedule, at least--I should have had a row of pint jars filled with peach butter up on the shelf.  But noooo.  Nevermind what I had penciled in; my Teacher had other plans for the week. 

The peaches (and the housework and the writing and even the chewing I was counting on doing) were just going to have to wait. Which, as it turned out--and as it often turns out--was a good thing.

Have you lived long enough (like I have) to consider that trend? The "Wow, that's bad--no, wait!" trend? Have you started musing too that maybe trials are really still-green and too-tart blessings,
and nothing a bit of patience and Divine intervention can't sort right out? If you haven't, I hope you get there, every bit as much as I hope I'll manage to stay there. Because when you do--when I do-- it will Set. Us. Free.

For myself, I've seen so many trials mature into juicy why-did-I-ever-doubt blessings that I can trust the ones which still seem green to me will one day get really, really ripe. I honestly believe--and have some hard-core soap-opera strength experiences to back up my faith--even the greenest, face-puckering-est trial I've ever endured will be mouth-wateringly sweet and gloriously delicious after it has been in the presence of the Son long enough.

One day, every trial I've ever endured will be like these peaches, perfectly ripe. And oh, I was delighted to find some affordable Freestone peaches that weren't hard as rocks and actually smelled like real peaches instead of freon. I can't imagine what I'll feel when I see my "trials" served up to me, at last at a recognizable as the sweet, hand-picked blessings they always were.

Roasted Peach Butter on a plate with cinnamon toast
Back to Thursday two weeks ago, though.  With the peaches tucked into my cooler bag in the parking lot outside the dentist's office, I sashayed blithely into the blessing of an "easy" dental appointment gone wild. A cracked tooth under that temporary bridge? Another abscess? No other options left after a summer-long saga at the dentist? Oy.

Needless to say it was Saturday before I cared at all about the peaches. While slumping on the couch in a post-Lortab daze, a news-show chef displayed roasted peach something-or-other on a plate with some other stuff. (I said I was dazed.) And, then, mind unfettered by habit, I wondered, what if I didn't have to do boiling water and ice baths and stand-and-stir to get peach butter? 

And there you go.  I do believe there might be a great big picture involving the reorganization of my mouth, a Texas-sized masterpiece of blessing somewhere down the line. But right now, here I am, with my nose pressed against this single pixel of expense and loss and pain, believing that even this pixel in this moment has the texture of benediction layered in over the OW.

In the Right Now, there's this clue to the Later I'm trusting God for: we'd probably have still had peach butter this winter, but chances are it'd be of the pedestrian sort. Because of the delay and the Lortab feeding the need not to have to do it the usual way, we got something new and better than we'd been expecting, something with hints of honey and ginger and cardamom, warmed by cognac-and-vanilla under it all.

While it doesn't anywhere near make up for the crazy rendezvous with the dentist's chair,
it's a nice enough little consolation prize. 

roasted peach butter

Click HERE for a Google Document recipe.

Roasted Peach Butter 

12 pounds of peaches (about 40) preferably of the Freestone variety
1/2 cup (or to taste) unpasteurized raw honey
1/8-1/4 t ground cardamom
1/8-1/4 t ginger
2 T vanilla extract (I used homemade—vanilla beans steeped for a year in cognac) 

Wash and slice peaches in half lengthwise through the stem and around the pit. Hold the peach gently in both hands and slowly rotate the halves around the pit in opposite directions. The pit will stay in one half of the peach and be easier to remove, whether you do it now or after roasting.

Place peaches cut-side up in two foil-lined baking sheets. Roast at 350ยบ for 30 minutes, then carefully flip and roast another 15-30 minutes. Peaches should be soft and deeply colored when they are ready. How long this will take depends on how ripe your peaches are. 

Meanwhile, prepare your jars/lids/rings and a hot water bath canner according to canner directions.

Allow peaches to cool slightly, then use tongs to remove skins. Discard the skins and coarsely chop the peaches before placing in a Dutch oven. Scrape any “syrup” from the foil with a rubber spatula and add to the fruit in the pot.

Heat over medium-low until hot and bubbly. Sweeten with honey to taste. Again, the ripeness and natural sweetness of your peaches will change how much honey you need. Stir in the vanilla, then begin adding the other spices in small increments, to taste.

If you like smooth peach butter, blend with an immersion blender. While maintaining a gentle boil over low heat, dip the peach butter into hot jars, wipe rims, seal, and process 20 minutes in a boiling water bath, following canner directions on cooling, checking seal, and storage.

YIELD: 7 pints, plus about 1/2 cup for “quality control”

Special thanks to Stephanie for sharing a FB post that helped me 
shore up my understanding of the unripe fruit analogy I've used here.

If you're wondering, this is the pan I used to roast the peaches. It's my go-to pan for everything. If you get one, be sure to consider using foil for any endeavor that results in a baked-on mess. That's what I do, because the dishwasher dulls the beautiful shiny finish, and also because I'd rather write/cook/sleep than scrub.

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