A Rustic Peach Tart with Jason Varney

September 14, 2012

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.

Tart Crust


  • 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


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Canned Peaches


  • Makes 4 pints
  • 5 pounds peaches (preferably freestone)
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar


  1. 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.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  3. While it heats, cut the peaches into quarters and remove the pits.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. Wipe the rims, apply the lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes.
  13. 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.
  14. When time is up, remove jars from the canner and let them cool on a folded kitchen towel.
  15. 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.
  16. Wash jars to remove any stickiness and store in a cool, dry place for up to one year.

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28 responses to “A Rustic Peach Tart with Jason Varney”

  1. To ensure your peach skin slips off after a hot bath – cold bath your peaches must be ripe. Store bought peaches (ewww) can be placed in a paper bag overnight to help the ripening process.

  2. I never would have thought of using already canned peaches, but that’s just the revelatory number to pull out in the dark days of january to cheer up a house! Amazing idea, and gorgeous photos.

  3. Plenty of Peaches here this year (see my today’s blog). I’m really here to say that I shall be doing your Pickled Carrots today; I’ve plenty of those too!

  4. Peaches are in full force this time of year, and my sister and I are getting ready to can about 100 pounds. We have been looking for ways to use honey instead of regular sugar in the process, as my nephew is on a special diet. Can you safely substitute honey at a 1:1 ratio for sugar when you can peaches? Thanks!

  5. Is it safe to can small peaches whole, not removing pits, just skins? I have recipes for whole peaches canned with cloves & cinnamon in the syrup but what about just a light syrup? Would appreciate some advice on this.

    • The Canned Peaches recipe is just what I was looking for but I am a bit confused with the directions. In Step 2 it says “Bring a large pot of water to a boil. While it heats, cut the peaches into quarters…” but in Step 3 it says “Working in batches, add the peach halves to the boiling water…” Are the peaches cut into quarters or halves? Also, are the peaches cut before removing the peel? I am rather new to the canning process and want to make sure I follow the directions correctly. Thanks so much for your help and I am so looking forward to trying out this recipe.

      • M.J., I’ve tweaked that recipe a little, in the hopes of making it a little more clear. The spot where it said peach halves and was confusing you was simply a mistake on my part. It should have said peach pieces. Essentially, you cut the peaches into quarters, blanch the quarters, and remove the skin from the quarters. If you try to peel the peaches whole, they are then very hard to remove from the pit, because a peeled peach is very slippery.

  6. Marisa, your tips on blanching peaches was a huge timesaver for us this year! We just bought a bushel of peaches to process, and the instructions we found in another source were tedious and produced slippery peaches that were hard to handle. Cutting them and removing the pits before, instead of blanching them whole, was the way to go. Many thanks!

    We’ve also tried several of your jam recipes this year, from your book. The rhubarb-vanilla jam with tea is amazing! Kudos to your good work, and helpful instructions and tips.


  7. As embarrassing as this is to admit, I just realized (after my canning was done of course) that the saucepan I used to simmer my lids didn’t get cleaned all the way and had some gunk in it when I was simmering them. I’m new to canning so am not sure how/if it will affect my canned fruit. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!!

  8. Hi Marisa! Love your website, I credit you (and your amazing books) for my canning obsession 🙂

    I’d love to do these peaches in quarts instead of pints – can you advise on processing time for quarts? I’ve always heard to add an additional 5 minutes for quarts vs. pints, but want to be sure that these work out. Thanks!

    • You would need to do it in an acidified syrup. You’d want to make sure to get at least 2 tablespoons of bottled lemon juice into each jar.

  9. Hi, I’m sure that it is probably obvious lol, but in step 9 when you say slide the peaches into the hot liquid, you are just meaning the peaches, not the lemon water too….right? Just want to clarify that before I try to do this tomorrow lol! This will be my first year canning peaches….so don’t want to make a mess of it!

    • Just the peaches, not the lemon water. That water is just there to keep the peaches from turning brown while you finish peeling them.

  10. Hi Marisa,
    I love your recipes (and cookbooks!), and I’ve made these peaches several times, but it always eats up a lot of time. I’m wondering if it would be a problem to use a peeler to remove the skin to save a step, especially since they get cooked in the syrup before canning. Most of the peaches we get here in Central PA are really big, so losing a little bit of fruit to the peeler isn’t really a problem. Thoughts?

  11. Hello, do I have to cook the peaches in the syrup or can I put them in the jars and then ladle the syrup overtop and then water bath 20 minutes? Thank you 🙂
    Same question for pears, also can I add liquid vanilla extract to the syrup for the pears? Thanks again I appreciate the help 🙂

  12. Just made the canned peaches tonight. Easy recipe to follw. I have to say they look great in my Weck jars that I used for the first time. Have always been a little intimidated by them. Thanks, Terri.

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