You may be familiar with this recipe’s better-known cousin, apple butter, which is all well and good. But here’s the truth of the matter: Nothing captures the essence of late summer more than this sweet-tart preserve. It cooks down to a silky brown purée, but tastes only of sunshine and nectar.
8 pounds fresh, ripe peaches
2-2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
4 cinnamon sticks
1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
Using a sharp knife, score each peach with a shallow X shape on the bottom. Fill a large pot (at least 5 quarts) with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add peaches and boil until skins loosen, about 1 minute. Remove peaches from water with a slotted spoon and run under cold water to stop cooking. The peaches should now slip easily out of their skins. Discard skins.
Using a knife or your hands, break peaches up into large pieces and put in a 6-quart slow cooker. Add sugar, orange juice, cinnamon sticks, and salt and stir. Set heat to high and cover; cook until mixture is simmering, 1 to 1-1/2 hours. Reduce heat to low and leave lid slightly ajar. Cook until peach butter is thick and mahogany-colored, 7 to 9 hours. Pour into sterilized jars and process for 10 minutes in a boiling-water bath.