My mother was a pioneer woman.  At least in the kitchen she was.  She cooked in prodigious quantities, feeding a hard-working husband, five rambunctious boys, and a caboose of a daughter.  She baked bread regularly in huge quantities, often saving some of the dough for fried bread, which we called scones.  And she put food by.  It seemed like the last half of the summer was dedicated to canning—first apricots and then tomatoes and pickles and peaches.

peach_cobbler

The peach harvest seemed to go on forever, maybe because it was the boys’ job to help.  The counters would line with quart jars of golden peaches.  When they could hold no more, we hauled them to the three-season porch on the back of the house where one wall was banked with brown cupboards to hold canned goods.  By winter the cupboards would be full and while the windows would coat with ice in December, nothing froze in the cupboards.

As we hauled load after load to the porch, we wondered how we could possibly eat that many peaches.  But we did.  Chilled in that sweet peach syrup, they were Dad’s favorite dessert.  He often came home late.  Mother would heat up the leftovers–and after doing the last of the dishes–sit at the table and talk while he was eating his peaches.

Mother made occasional pies with those peaches but what she made the most were peach cobblers.  They were the best peach cobblers.  The peaches still tasted nearly fresh and the thick topping was sweet and crusty.  We liked our cobblers warm.  Often we would pour milk over our bowl of warm peach cobbler like you would hot cereal or maybe we would load it with a couple scoops of vanilla ice cream.  Dad poured canned milk over his and Mom always kept a can of evaporated milk chilled in the refrigerator for him.

I’ve long since lost Mother’s recipe for peach cobbler and while Mother taught me to cook, what I made just wasn’t the same.  Then one summer, in a gift shop in Yellowstone Park, I found a little book called, Mormon Cooking.  It had a recipe for peach cobbler.  Of course I bought it.  The peach cobbler was close to what Mother made.  That was fifteen years ago and somewhere the little book disappeared but we still have the peach cobbler recipe.  It’s evolved over time and we’ve created versions for both fresh and canned peaches but it’s as close to my Mother’s as my memory allows.  It’s a simple recipe.  The top is just crusty and more cake-like than biscuit-like.  It still works with milk or ice cream.   I hope you enjoy your peach cobbler.  You’ll also find recipes for peach jam and peach pie.

Mormon Peach Cobbler with Canned Peaches

For the fruit mixture:

1 quart canned sliced peaches in syrup
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1. Drain the syrup into a saucepan.  Mix a little of the juice with the cornstarch to make a soft paste and add the paste to the rest of the syrup and stir.  Add the spices.
2. Heat until bubbly, stirring as needed.  The syrup should thicken to a slurry.  Add the peaches.
3. Pour the slurry and peaches into a small casserole dish.

For the topping:

1 large egg
1/3 cup milk
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

1. In a medium bowl, mix the melted butter, milk, and egg together.  Add the sugar and stir until the sugar is dissolved.  
2. In another bowl, combine the dry ingredients.  Add them to the liquid mixture and stir until well combined.  You will have a thick batter.
3. Spoon the batter over the peach mixture completely covering the fruit.  Bake for 45 minutes or until the filling is bubbly and the top is a golden brown. 

Mormon Peach Cobbler with Fresh Peaches

We developed this recipe from the first recipe so that we could use our fresh peaches.   

For the fruit mixture:

3/4 cup pineapple or other juice
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
4 cups ripe peaches, peeled and sliced

1. Pour the juice into a saucepan.  Add the sugar, cornstarch, and spices.  Stir until smooth.  
2. Heat until bubbly, stirring as needed.   The syrup should thicken to a slurry.  Put the peaches in a small casserole dish and pour the slurry over the top.


For the topping:

1 large egg
1/3 cup milk
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

1. In a medium bowl, mix the melted butter, milk, and egg together.  Add the sugar and stir until the sugar is dissolved.  
2. In another bowl, combine the dry ingredients.  Add them to the liquid mixture and stir until well combined.  You will have a thick batter.
3. Spoon the batter over the peach mixture completely covering the fruit.  Bake for 45 minutes or until the filling is bubbly and the top is a golden brown. 

Peach_pie

Harvest Peach Pie

This is a great peach pie recipe!  The spices and the vanilla will remind you of a peach cobbler.  The filling is a rich, translucent caramel color with golden peach slices shining through.  This is our favorite peach pie recipe.

This is an unusual fruit pie recipe on two counts: It’s made with Clearjel instead of flour or cornstarch as a thickener and it’s made with extra filling surrounding the peach slices.    

Most fruit pie recipes do not call for extra liquid but rely on juices from the fruit to create a slurry.  With this recipe, you make a generous jelled filling with about 3/4 cup liquid, the juices from the cooking fruit, and Clearjel.  The extra moisture and filling complements the fruit well and sets up almost firm to make a nice, jelled filling that slices cleanly and presents nicely.  

You can learn more about Clearjel and pie filings from Clemson University’s Extension Service and you can purchase Clearjel from The Prepared Pantry and other online stores.  

3 cups fresh peaches, peeled and sliced 1/2 inch thick (from about 6 peaches)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 cup Original Clearjel (see note)
2/3 cup cold water
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
pie crust mix or recipe to make a double crust
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 tablespoon turbinado sugar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

1. Combine the sugar, cinnamon, allspice, and Clearjel in a medium saucepan.  Mix well.  Add the water and lemon juice.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a whisk, until it thickens and just begins to bubble.  Take it off the heat immediately.  Do not overcook.  The slurry will thicken more when baking.  Add the peach slices and vanilla and stir.   
2. Form the pie shell.  Add the filling to the pie shell.  Add the top and crimp the edges or make a lattice top.  Brush the butter over the crust and sprinkle with the turbinado sugar.  Unless you are using a lattice top, cut slits in the crust to allow the steam to escape.  
3. Place a pie shield over the crust edges to avoid over-cooking the edges of the pie crust.  Bake for 45 minutes or until the crust is lightly browned and the filling is bubbly.

peach_jam

Harvest Peach Freezer Jam

4 1/2 cups peeled and sliced peaches
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup Original Clearjel (see note)
1 cup granulated sugar or to taste
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Add the lemon juice to the peaches in a large saucepan. Combine the Clearjel with 1/4 cup of the sugar. Add the sugar mixture to the peaches.
2. Bring to the jam mixture to boil, stirring constantly. Add the rest of the sugar and the cinnamon and bring to a boil again while stirring, and cook for one additional minute.  Add the vanilla.
3. Pour the jam into clean jars, leaving about 1/2-inch headspace. Add clean lids and rings and tightly secure.  Freeze the jam.  Once thawed, keep refrigerated and use within three weeks. 

Author’s note:  Clearjel is a starch product produced by National Starch Company.  It can be used in place of pectin and requires less sugar. 

You can learn more about Clearjel used in freezer jams from Washington State University’s Extension Service and you can purchase Clearjel from The Prepared Pantry and other online stores. 

Dennis Weaver is the manager of The Prepared Pantry, an online seller of baking mixes, supplies, kitchen tools and gourmet foods—including tools and supplies for these recipes.


He is the author of How to Bake, a comprehensive book on baking available free in electronic format. (See free 250 page cook book for a free copy.)  The Prepared Pantry has a full line kitchen store in Rigby, Idaho.