An Orgy of Peaches

This is going to be a good summer for peaches.

A bushel of peachesTwo local orchards I already hit had early peaches in the 2nd week of July. A third said the rain was having them push harvesting by a few days, but that peaches should be coming strong after the 15th. And they did! On Friday, I picked up a bushel of peaches – some white, some yellow – at Moore’s Orchard on Fodderstack Road between Sperryville and Washington, VA. As I walked into the packing shed, the sensuous scent of ripe peaches hits me, sweet and smooth and then wraps itself around me. Later, as I was driving home, loaded with my bounty, the fragrance of ripe peaches pervaded my small car and drifted out through the open window, making me dreamy. Can one get high of the scent of ripe peaches?

At the orchard, Dorothy Moore helped me pack my bushel (bring your own containers) and charged me only $18 (instead of the regular $24) because many of the peaches were “seconds”. Look at the picture above and how many peaches that is! As it turns out, that’s over 56 pounds – or $0.32 per pound. A win-win situation: I am having freshly picked ripe peaches at an incredible price and supporting a local farmer. Yes, the “seconds” were a little bruised, but they are fine for what I want to make with them: compote, sauce & purée – all to be frozen or canned for winter use. Some of the unblemished peaches will be halved, pitted and frozen for cobblers, pies, smoothies and the likes – also for cold weather use… well maybe nor the smoothies. Others will go into sorbets & ice-cream. A few will be eaten out of hand or grilled or baked into a rustic tart (not too much baking – it is HOT). Finally several pounds already found their way into peach liqueur and peach vinegar.

I am having a peach orgy. I hope to have many more this summer as this promises to be a good peach summer. Lots of ways to eat them. Today I will write down the recipe for Homemade Peach Liqueur, a distillation of summer to be sipped joyfully at Thanksgiving, gratefully on a cold winter evening or expectantly in the spring. Over the next week or so, I will be posting more peach recipes.

Peach Liqueur

Freshly made peach liqueur aging & fresh peachesThe recipe is based on a recipe from the book “Classic Liqueurs: The Art of Making and Cooking with Liqueurs” by Cheryl Long & Heather Kibbey.

1 ½ pound fresh, ripe, fragrant peaches

1 cup sugar

2 cups good quality, unflavored vodka

  • Peel, pit and slices peaches over a non-reactive sauce pan to catch all the juices. Add sugar and stir well to combine. Heat over low heat until the sugar dissolves and the peaches give off a good quantity of juice.
  • Put the each mixture in an aging container (such as a large glass Mason jar; do not use metal or plastic). Add vodka. Stir, cap & keep in a cool dark place for a week.
  • After 1 week, strain the liqueur mixture through a wire strainer, pressing on the solids to extract as much juice as possible. Save the pulp for another use (drunken peaches over vanilla ice cream, anyone?) or discard. Restrain the liqueur through a finer mesh, cheese cloth, coffee filter etc – several times if necessary – until the desired clarity is obtained. Bottle as desired. It’s OK for cooking and drinking at this stage but will be much better after one month of further aging.

Happy sipping!

14 comments

  1. [...] under the stair since July. This morning, finally, it was time for bottling. You do remember the peach liqueur we made, right? YOU did make it, right?, when the peaches were full of flavor and fragrance last [...]

  2. Wow, Sylvie– I have peach envy after reading this post. You can bet I’ll be making this next season and hopefully my peach trees will cooperate; otherwise I’ll have to drive over the pass to Eastern Washington where sun and irrigation guarantee amazing peaches. Thanks!

  3. sylvie says:

    Tom – it might be a stunning color too if you make it with your Peches de Vignes.

    Happy New Year!

  4. Matt says:

    As soon a s peach season comes I will be at my local farmers market stocking up. I plan on making several batches! Any recommendations on brands of vodka?

  5. sylvie says:

    Good to hear from you Matt.

    Because the peaches are going to infuse the vodka, there is no need for a premium brand; That’s my recommendation: get a mid-range unflavored vodka, something between the cheapest one and the premium – whatever is available in your area. Although, I expect you could do this with the cheapest vodka too (as long as it is “real” vodka) if you end-up letting the mixture age for 6 months or so: that should take care of smoothing out any roughness. I just have an intrinsic hesitation to buy “the cheapest”. On the other hand, the more “premium” the vodka, the sooner it will be pleasurable to drink – as little as a couple of weeks. As often, it’s time vs. cash, isn’t it?

  6. Matt says:

    I don’t mind spending a little extra for something this good! Thanks for the tip!

  7. [...] of this… January 28, 2009 Filed under: Uncategorized — neohippiemama @ 2:37 am Homemade Peach liquor.   I can just about taste the juiciness of peaches. [...]

  8. [...] tablespoon peach or apricot liqueur (Chez Panisse calls for kirsch to taste); homemade’s [...]

  9. [...] after the smashing success of last year’s home-made peach liquor, I decided to make strawberry liqueur. I love macerating the fruit in alcohol, with spices or [...]

  10. [...] to try my hand at other shrubs this summer (currant? wine berries?) and as you know from here and here, I have this thing with making fruit liqueur. My mom made plenty of fruit & herb liqueurs when [...]

  11. Gary Misch says:

    It’s a toss up as to whether the liqueur or the drunken peaches are better. I’m making two batches this year, just to have more drunken peaches. I put last year’s batch of tipsy peaches in the freezer, and just scooped some out whenever we wanted some. The small amount of alcohol left in the peaches keeps them from freezing solid.

  12. sylvie says:

    Hi Gary… maybe I should try drunken peaches? I have put the peaches that have soaked into the alcohol in a jelly bag, then left them drip for a day (or two) then squeeze the bag, then left drip some more… and again… so I get as much juice as I can out of the peaches, and end up with a very unappetizing mush. But you are getting me to rethink that. Now, tell me, how do you eat your drunken peaches (besides, “with a spoon”?)

  13. lynn says:

    Well I’ve just made a batch of peach liqueur, from a recipe I found in a cookbook. One thing I’m wondering — the alcohol/sugar doesn’t completely cover the fruit. Do you have to worry about spoilage on the fruit that’s sticking up? I’ve successfully made plum and pear liqueurs before (recipes from the same book) but have never had the issue of excess fruit. I’d love to hear if you have any experience with this. Thanks in advance.

  14. sylvie says:

    lynn – I always try to cover the fruit with alcohol, by either adjusting the amount of fruit, pressing the fruit down or increasing the alcohol/sugar liquid. I do think that the fruit that’s above the liquid absorb some of the liquid – within reason that is. I think! But of course it would be as saturated as when immersed in liquid, so might not be safe (when making sauerkraut, you want all the cabbage to be immersed – I know that’s not the same here, but still…). Also seems somewhat of a waste of fruit since one is trying to extract the peach flavor form the peaches. If the peaches are not in alcohol no flavor gets extracted. And finally, fruit not immersed in alcohol will turn brown and definitively not appetizing. So even if safe to eat, it certainly does not look good. If you have just made the liqueur, and the fruit still has its nice peachy color, I would just add more alcohol until all the fruit is covered. If the excess fruit has already turned brown, I would just remove it and throw it on the compost pile. If the fruit just does not want to sty pit although you have enough liquid, try to weigh it down, using a glass jar (filled with water if needed), a small plate etc. Best wishes: you’ll enjoy your liqueur! PS: did you use the peaches from your trees?

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