Earlier this summer, I spent a morning with food photographer Jason Varney, working on a little project. It wasn’t a magazine assignment and no one had asked us to spend a few hours playing with peaches. We simply wanted to see what we could create in collaboration. We started with a big bag of peaches from Three Springs Fruit Farm (thanks again for those, Ben!), a few jars of my preserved peaches and a big lump of homemade pie crust.
Jason carefully pushed and prodded, until each finished frame was gloriously messy and perfectly imperfect. Watching him work was good insight into the art of food photography and reminder that I’m not nearly enough of a perfectionist to be anything but an able amateur (a status I’m entirely contented with).
When the shoot was over, we had six beautiful images and a warm peach tart. Not bad for a few hours.
To see the rest of the images Jason made that morning, click over to his newly relaunched site, Fussing With Forks. The finished tart recipe is also over there. The recipes for the canned peaches and pie crust can be found below.
- 1 2/3 all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 1/4 cup ice water
- Combine the flours, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to combine. Add the cold butter cubes to the bowl and pulse until the butter is incorporated into the flours and largest bits look to be the size of peas.
- Then, with the motor running, slowly stream the water into the bowl using the tube. Stop once you’ve added half the water and test the dough by squeezing it. If it sticks together, it’s done. You want it to just barely hold together.
- Wrap the dough in plastic wrap or waxed paper. Store in the refrigerator for at least an hour before using. Overnight is fine too. The dough can also be frozen for up to a month.
- If you don’t have a food processor, pie dough is still within your grasp. Combine the flours, sugar and salt in a large bowl and whisk together. Grate very cold butter using a box grater. When it’s all grated, combine with the flours in the bowl and work together using a pastry blender or your hands. Add water drop by drop until the dough comes together. Store as recommended above.
- Makes 4 pints
- 5 pounds peaches (preferably freestone)
- 1 lemon
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- Prepare a boiling water bath and 4 regular-mouth pint jars. Place the lids in a small saucepan, cover them with water, and simmer over very low heat.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
- While it heats, cut the peaches into quarters and remove the pits.
- Fill a large bowl two-thirds full with ice-cold water. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice into the water. This is where your peaches will go when they come out of the hot water bath. The cold water stops the cooking and the lemon helps prevent the fruit from browning.
- Working in batches, add the peach pieces to the boiling water and cook for 60 seconds. Immediately transfer the peaches to the bowl filled with ice-cold water.
- Before adding the next batch of peaches to the pot, make sure to give the water a chance to come back up to boiling between batches. If the water isn’t hot enough, you will have a hard time removing the skin during peeling.
- Once all the peach pieces have been blanched and they are cool enough to handle, remove the skins with your fingers and return the fruit to the lemon water.
- Combine the sugar with 4 cups water in a large saucepan. Place over medium heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to a gentle boil.
- Once the syrup has begun to boil, slide the peaches into the hot liquid. Let them cook in the syrup until it returns to a boil.
- Funnel the warm peaches into prepared jars, topping with syrup so that there’s just 1/2 inch space between the top of the liquid and the rim of the jar.
- Gently tap the jars on your worktop to help loosen any trapped air bubbles. If the liquid level drops drastically, add more syrup to return the headspace to 1/2 inch.
- Wipe the rims, apply the lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes.
- When time is up, turn off the heat and remove the lid on the pot. Let the jars sit in the canning pot for an additional five minutes. This helps prevent the syrup from siphoning out of the jars due to a rapid change in heat.
- When time is up, remove jars from the canner and let them cool on a folded kitchen towel.
- When the jars are completely cool, remove the rings and test the seals of the jars by grasping the edges of the lid and lifting up an inch or so. If the lids hold, the seals are good.
- Wash jars to remove any stickiness and store in a cool, dry place for up to one year.