Recently, a friend's mom gave me a huge bag of whole vanilla beans...for free! My mind instantly started wondering what I could make. My first vanilla bean adventure was Honey Vanilla Ice Cream, and it was fabulous. And over the last few weeks, since freestone peaches have come in season, I've been buying oodles of peaches! After I bought a 1/2 peck and a few of them got soft, I began thinking about canning them. So, my googling began. I wanted to make something with peaches and vanilla beans, and within only a few minutes, I came across a recipe for Vanilla Peach Butter. It sounded fabulous, so I decided to try it. The following week, I bought a 1/2 peck of #2 peaches - soft, bruised, or scratch-and-dent peaches for $4 (#1 peaches cost $9 for 1/2 peck). I knew I would be making this recipe, so the bruises and softness didn't really matter to me...they didn't need to be pretty!)
After I read through the recipe I found, I modified it slightly for my taste, and here's what I came up with:
(makes 11-12 half-pint jars)
1/2 peck peaches, washed & quartered (I left the peels on for extra color)
1 1/2 c sugar
1 t Kosher salt
2 vanilla beans, split
In a large, heavy pot, cook the peaches, sugar, and salt over low heat until the peaches are soft...almost mushy, about 5 hours, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. To even out the consistency, mash the peaches with a potato masher.
Add the split vanilla beans, and continue cooking over low heat until the mixture has reduced to half its original volume. Continue stirring occasionally.
Once the mixture has reduced, remove the vanilla beans. Transfer the hot mixture to sterilized jars and process in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes. If canning isn't your preferred method, cool the mixture and transfer to a freezer-safe container. Freeze up to 12 months.