Golden Peach Sauce – No Sugar Added
Golden Peach Sauce – just like applesauce, but made of peaches, no added sugar, and amazing! Easy to make, too, and much faster than jam!
So we all like applesauce, right? Or, well… I try not to say “all” because there are always exceptions, but most people I know do. It’s sweet, has lots of flavor, you can spoon it over things or spread it on other things or just eat it from a bowl…
Now – how about that same versatility, but with peaches?
OK – peaches can be tricky, because if they’re picked green they never really fully ripen, but if they’re picked ripe they bruise if you ship them,and go bad… So the best peaches are always the ones as local as you can get them. At the same time, they suit some climates more than others, so Georgia – and Carolina – peaches are famous for good reason. When I lived in New York, I didn’t eat peaches in the new year at all until I could get them from the east coast – but the best were from Pennsylvania and New Jersey, because they had not been shipped far. (California peaches are wonderful, I am told, if you are in the West. They just don’t measure up, though, if you’re in the East… It’s all about shipping unripe fruit.)
Now I’m in the Carolinas. I knew local peaches would be available earlier – what a treat! – but I’ve been delighted to find that they are phenomenal. I laugh, because I go up and down the farmer’s market sampling – and I rarely sample food – but that helps me find the best flavor. (Some are just sweet but don’t taste like much – I want flavor, and can find it if I look.)
I have made sauce like this before, even cooking it further down to peach butter (I can’t wait to make that here!) This time I stopped at a sauce because I plan to use it in some recipes (which you may or may not see on the blog this year… depending on how well and quickly the experiments work out!) But I don’t need a recipe to use it – spoon some over cottage cheese or yogurt, dab it on cream cheese on a cracker, pour it over ice cream… Here’s a good one – mix a little peach sauce with your favorite mustard and serve with ham. I’ve done that for years, and it’s amazing!
All you need are peaches, but the quality makes all the difference. That said – if you can’t get really good fresh peaches, you’ll be surprised how much this does improve them – cooking concentrates the flavor. (And in that case, a touch of lemon juice may brighten the taste just a bit…) But still, use the best and ripest you can get.
I started with a little over two pounds. These were a breeze to peel, because they were so ripe the skin just came off like a glove. If you can’t do that, the traditional method is to blanch them – just pop them in a pot of boiling water for a few seconds, then rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. That softens the layer just under the peel, and it should come off easily. So peel them and chop them, discarding the pits.
A good heavy pan makes this easier, as does non stick or enamel coating. My heavy enameled iron fry pan was just perfect, but any good pan will work… Put the peaches (and any juice that collects) in the pan over low heat, and cook, stirring frequently, until they start to release juice. Once it’s good and wet, you can raise the heat gradually, until the juice starts to simmer. Keep stirring! I like a silicone spatula best for this. Use it to scrape the bottom of the pan.
After a while, you’ll find your fruit gets pretty soupy. By now, the peaches are cooked soft. You can take an immersion blender to them, to puree the fruit, but I like an old fashioned potato masher, as it leaves an interesting texture. You do whichever will work best for you and your intended use. At this point, you can probably step away for a few minutes – but make sure you come right back! You do still need to stir regularly, to be sure it does not start to stick and burn. It probably won’t at this stage – that’s a greater risk if you cook it down into butter – but why risk it?
When you get the texture and consistency you like, turn off the heat and let it cool. I got a little over a pint from my slightly more than two pounds of peaches – that will vary by how much juice the fruit has, and how much evaporates during cooking. I spent about half an hour actually cooking this, most but not all watching the stove (but doing other tasks and stirring between steps) – again, this can vary but that’s an estimate… do allow at least that much time.
Once cool, package and refrigerate. If you won’t finish it within a few days, freeze some. (If you certainly would use it within a few days but want the flavor later in the year, freeze some… it freezes quite well.)
And there you have it. It does take some time, but not the hours your friends may think… it’s delicious, and rather impressive – and really quite simple.
Golden Peach Sauce – No Sugar Added
- 2 lbs ripe peaches
- Peel and chop peaches.
- Place in heavy pan over low heat. Stir until the fruit starts to release juice. Gradually raise the heat until the juice starts to simmer.
- Simmer, stirring frequently, for about five minutes until fruit is completely soft. Use a potato masher or an immersion blender to puree the fruit, making it as smooth or textured as you wish.
- Continue to simmer, stirring frequently, until you have the consistency you want.