Comfort Foods: Peach Seed Jelly

COVID season provided ample opportunity for reflection. Who am I anyway? Or who are WE? How did we get here? Where are we headed?

Much of my ruminating led to angst. We don’t know for sure where we are headed. Events of the last year placed a lot of lifelong assumptions, assurances, and dreams under the scrutinizing lens of a societal microscope and we came up lacking—lacking equality and justice, lacking compassion, lacking financial security and equity. In other areas we have far too much—distrust of each other, division, despair.

Through it however, I discovered that an open mind, willingness to embrace new ideas and habits, reinforcing resilience, and following new paths to adventure were good medicine. Laughter with friends, online or masked, helped also.

Another of my go-to tactics was to remember good times and loved ones who have departed. I recall they made it through difficult days—or even years—and that helps. If they did, so can we.

I discovered one good way to access memories is through food. I am no gourmet chef. In fact, I am one of those people who really HATES to cook. I have always looked at food preparation as a necessary inconvenience. However, I discovered that preparing family favorites passed along by loved ones was therapeutic. I delighted in preparing dishes that make me think of lost family members. Call it comfort food. The stories behind favorite family recipes, their origins and evolution, offer warm fuzzies in the way of good memories, as well.

Today I launch a new thread in my blog–Comfort Food recipes, brought to me by dear friends and beloved family members. Many of the originals live in my recipe box, and when I read the ingredients and instructions, penned in my grandmother’s or mother’s handwriting, it’s as if they are just around the corner, waiting to share some familiar conversational topics. In “Comfort Foods” I will share food stories also, the memories associated with the recipes, and how they came to be favorites.

I start the series with a favorite from my Grandma Georgia, “Peach Seed Jelly.” Yes, you read that right. It is jelly made from a pan of peach seeds. Though I don’t know its origin, I can visualize Grandma Georgia tending to those peaches from her wild peach tree on the west side of the wheat field. After canning the sliced peaches, she discovered how to make use of them down to the leftover seeds, probably with a little help from her friends.

This story has to start in the springtime. After the recent polar weather we experienced, I look forward to this year’s spring. Will the fruit trees bloom again this year? Will the balmy weather allow them to produce fruit again? A few years ago, I learned that the flowering tree at the corner of a building my dad built on the property next door was a peach tree. Prior to that I assumed it to be an ornamental plum since it had never produced fruit in the three decades that we’ve lived here. As it grew, it gifted us with cascades of blossoms during several springs. The fruit finally showed up, and for the last two years, branches were laden with delicate, small white peaches. There was enough to collect and can for the winter, along with several pints of white peach jam.

The story could stop there. But it doesn’t. When I was a child, Grandma Georgia shared a recipe for “Peach Seed Jelly” that my mother utilized several times. Mother discovered that you don’t have to make the jelly during the summer’s canning season. Peach seeds can be frozen and kept a year or two—until there are enough to make a good batch of jelly. When the peach jam jars are empty, and canned peaches nearly depleted, winter is a perfect time to thaw out those peach seeds and make jelly.

Here’s how:

  1. Cover the peach seeds with boiling water and simmer on the stove for about five minutes. Let the seeds stand overnight in this water.
  2. Next morning strain and measure the juice.The seeds will now be relegated to the compost bin, or offered to the hens to peck over.
  3. Add 1 package of fruit pectin to each three cups of juice. For this batch, I measured 9 cups of juice, so I needed three packages of pectin.
  4. Bring this to a vigorous boil, stirring constantly.
  5. Add equal parts of sugar as juice. 9 cups juice requires 9 cups sugar. However, I have reliably had better luck with a ratio of 4:3 sugar to juice.  9 cups  juice  to  12  cups  sugar.
  6. Cook at the boiling point until drops sheet off a spoon in the jell test.
    This is NOT sheeting off the spoon.

    This takes maybe 15 – 20 minutes.

    Looking through the steam, this is getting close. The mixture doesn’t run any longer, and drips slowly.
    Jelly coating the stirring spoon.

    I have never been certain when this point is reached, or even identifying drops “sheeting” off the spoon but I discovered that you can test a spoonful on a lid or small dish. Place it in the refrigerator for a minute to see if it jells.

  7. When it’s ready, seal the jelly in pint jars.  Process 5 minutes in a boiling water bath.

    Eight pints of jelly from nine cups of juice.

This is a delightful jelly, with a flavor that cannot be duplicated in any purchased peach jelly or jam. One year, after a top-ranking ribbon at the county fair, my daughter took it to the state fair. No doubt about it, Peach Seed Jelly is a family favorite. After a successful batch, we get quite protective of it. We have even been known to ration its use by novices, just in case they don’t find it as desirable as we do!

Thank you, Grandma Georgia!

 

One thought on “Comfort Foods: Peach Seed Jelly

  1. Oh, I agree on so many points: cooking can be a major inconvenience (I’d rather do creative things), cooking a loved one’s recipe makes her seem to be with me in the kitchen, and your recipe sounds so delicious! Thanks for sharing!

Leave a Reply to nancyhamiltonsturm Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s