About a week ago, I was telling a couple friends about making preserves over drinks, when my friend Mandy told me about how her family always made jalapeño-peach jelly. It sounded really good, so I asked about their recipe, but she said that she did not have it. As I ended up buying about 10 pounds of peaches this past weekend, I set out to find a recipe of my own. As it turns out, I did not have to look very far - my mom had this one:
8-10 medium, ripe peaches - peeled and quartered.
1/2 a medium orange - quartered, seeded, and thinly sliced (rind included).
2-3 jalapeños (seeds and all).
4 cups sugar.
3/4 cup clover honey.
1/4 teaspoon all-natural almond extract.
1/2 teaspoon of butter (optional).
Wash and peel your peaches. Quarter them and discard the pits. Place them in a dutch oven, adding the sugar and honey. Cover and let stand for about 45 minutes (no heat).
In a food processor, combine the orange slices and jalapeños. Blend until finely chopped. Scrape into a medium saucepan and add an equal amount of water, about 2/3 of a cup. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat - simmer for about 10 minutes.
Bring the peaches to a boil over medium heat, stirring until sugar has completely dissolved. Turn heat up to medium-high, and boil. Stir often.
Add orange-jalapeño mixture, and return to boil for another 20-25 minutes or until you reach 222˚. At this point, the preserves were almost ready but they seemed overly foamy, so I added 1/2 teaspoon of butter, which helps cut it down some.
Remove from heat and stir in the almond extract. Ladle directly into your waiting hot, sterilized jars. Leave a quarter inch of headspace. Remove any air bubbles and and be sure to wipe the rims clean. Lid and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
The resulting preserves were spicy, but not so spicy as to overpower the peach flavor. They retained a pleasant sweetness - I swear I could taste the honey. I sampled a bit on some stovetop toast sliced from a baguette I had on hand - as usual - but this time with a taste of cream cheese, which really made for a winning combination.