Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Mother Squirrel

Hello, my name is Marisa and I have Food Preservation Addiction. No, seriously, I do.
This year, I had decided not to can peaches because things have been sort of hectic and I didn't think I had time. But driving home from the zoo the other day, I kept passing peach farms, with roadside stands brimming with gorgeous bushels of peaches. I could hardly stand it. My mouth was watering as I passed four or five produce stands and by the time I reached the sixth one, I had to pull over. So I came home with a bushel and a half of peaches and the process began.

As a child, I remember my mother and grandmother in our steamy, sticky sweet kitchen for hours at a time. At the time, it seemed to me like a lot of work, but I always had delicious peaches to eat any time I wanted. I also remember the first time I ate store bought peaches from a can, and I was stunned that people actually pay money for them.
Top 5 Reasons to Can Peaches:
1. Picking produce at the farm is half of the fun. The kids LOVE it.
2. It's easier than you think
3. It doesn't cost much
4. You can feed your family whole foods, with no preservatives
5. Eating delicious peaches all year!!
Just in case you want to try, here's what to do:

Supplies: (This can be expensive the first year, but after that, you can just reuse the jars.)
jars, lids, and screwbands
peaches (ripe and fragrant, but not overly soft)
water bath canner (a big back pot with a rack in the bottom-no more than $10)
canning tongs are nice, but I've never had them.
1. First, you are going to wash and dry the jars. You can use the dishwasher or do it by hand.
2. Then, wash your peaches.3. After your peaches are washed, you need to peel them. You can either peel them by hand, or blanch them in boiling water for 45-60 seconds. After they are blanched, use a slotted spoon to put them in ice water and when you peel them, the skins will almost fall off.

My little helper.

4. Prepare your syrup. I always use a light syrup, because if your fruit is ripe and sweet, you don't need extra sugar. I used 6 cups water to 2 cups sugar, but you can find charts for different syrups at homecanning.com or anywhere for that matter. You want the syrup to be hot when you add it to your jars, but not boiling.

5. Now, just peel and cut the peaches in half and put them into the jars. You want to fill them pretty tight, so simply tamp it down on a towel and the fruit will settle so you can fit lots in. Leave about 1/2 inch of space on top. (You can see from the pictures that I actually cut my peaches into sixths. I do this because I can fit more into the jars and my kids want them cut up when I serve them, so doing it in advance cuts down on dinnertime mayhem.)

5. Meanwhile, simmer the lids and screwbands in a saucepan, for sterilization and to soften the rubber on the lids.
6. Ladle hot syrup into jars to cover peaches, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary, by adding hot syrup.

7. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Apply band until fit is fingertip tight. 8. PROCESS jars in a boiling water canner for 25 minutes (for quarts), adjusting for altitude (homecanning.com). Remove jars and cool on a towel. They are HOT. 9. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed.

9. Label jars and stock your shelves.
A full pantry is joy to me. Just call me mother squirrel.


Jill said...

What a fun blog! I'm excited to see what else you put on here! We just did a bunch of peach jam, but I'm wanting to can peaches too. We'll see if I actually do. Thanks for the step by step for reference!

Jade said...

That is so awesome Marisa! I am sad now that peach season is over - though honestly I bet I wouldn't have gotten around to doing in anyway. I hope someday I will.