“Millions of peaches, peaches for me, millions of peaches, peaches for free…”
I remember this song being played on the radio fairly regularly when I was growing up. I haven’t heard the song in ages but I have found myself humming the tune over the course of the last week. Thinking about it, I suspect it has something to do with the fact that we are absolutely swamped with peaches at the moment. We have 6 peach trees at home, a combination of white and yellow peaches and they are now at their peak of ripeness and do they taste good! For the last couple of mornings I have wandered outside and plucked my breakfast straight off the tree – in my opinion this is fruit at its best!!!
However, that being said, in our household we do tend to preserve or freeze a lot of our fruit so that we can enjoy them later in the year. One of this week’s chores has been to make Peaches in Eau de Vie. I should probably start by explaining what eau de vie is – quite literally it means the Water of Life. In a nutshell it is a fairly punchy alcohol roughly 50% proof (not for the faint hearted) that can be made out of any fruit. Where we live the eau de vie tends to be a plum based alcohol, however, I have tried other types including apricot (smells incredible and the taste pretty good too), apple (which had a strange smell but not altogether unpleasant) and banana (in my opinion not nice at all).
Over the last couple of years we have discovered that one of the best ways to use eau de vie is in bottling fruit so here is a very straightforward recipe. (Whilst I haven’t tried this recipe with other types of alcohol I see no reason why it shouldn’t taste just as nice with brandy or white rum instead of the eau de vie).
Peaches in Eau de Vie (this recipe makes about 10 fairly large jars)
- 10/15 kg peaches (make sure they are of good quality, no bruises or nicks in the skin)
- 2kg sugar
- 1 litre water
- Eau de vie (roughly 1 litre)
- Sterilize some jars so that they are ready for the fruit. (I tend to put all the jars I am intending to use in the oven at 100C for at least 40 minutes to sterilize them).
- Place the sugar and water in a large pan and place on a low heat stirring occasionally until the sugar is dissolved.
- Whilst the sugar syrup is forming, carefully wash the peaches, place them on a tea-towel to dry a little and using a sterilized needle pierce each peach 4 times making sure that you reach the stone in the middle.
- Depending on the size of your pan, you are going to have to do the next step in stages. Once the syrup is ready and it is simmering away, place as many of the peaches as your pan allows making sure that the fruit has enough room to move around. Cook the peaches in the syrup (at a gentle simmer) for between 8-15 minutes (the length of time will depend on the ripeness of the fruit however you do not want your peaches to break down in the syrup so keep an eye on them).
- Then place your peaches in your sterilized jars (they will compact down after a few minutes so you can normal add a couple of extras in).
- The next step is for your discretion because it depends on the size of jars that you are using to store your fruit in. (As a guide, we tend to put roughly 150ml of eau de vie into our 1 litre jars and 100ml in our 0.75 litre jars).
- Once you have added the eau de vie to your peaches, finally top up your jars with some of the sugar syrup from your pan and seal the jars tightly.
- Continue the process until you have either run out of peaches or you no longer have any syrup left.
- Leave the jars in a cool place for at least 4 weeks before trying them (the longer the better).