Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Love My Peaches


Canning fruit without the embellishing steps required for saucing, pie filling or jam (or some other concoction where fruit is an ingredient rather than the point) is crazy easy, not to mention fast. Two summers ago I went on a cherry glom. Last year seemed to be the Summer of the Blackberry (in plain water, brandied, in syrup - all fabulous in every way). This year finds me in love with peaches.

Canning peaches is easy-peasy and requires no special equipment or ingredients. In fact, the only thing I don't like is that extra pots and bowl are required, what for the defuzzing and all, but then I remind myself that my houseplants adore the cooled defuzzing water and I snap out of it. Start by getting your canning kettle started so it's ready when you are - with this, you are one step ahead of the process. Next, scrub and sterilize your jars - I use pints - and get your lids and rings to a simmer. Then start another large pot of water boiling. (By now you're thinking, "What? I'm seriously going to use three burners for this business? Peaches suck. I quit." But they don't, not really, and if you quit you won't have peaches in January so stick with it.)

1) When you've got a nice bubbly boil, add the washed peaches a couple at a time (you can cut a small "x" into the bottom of each if you'd like - I don't bother) and transfer into a bowl of chilly water in 30-45 seconds. After they're cooled so that you can touch them, peel and slice off the pit (I do about 1/2 inch slices, but you can do what you like - smaller tends to fall apart on me and I have no interest in peach halves, although some people love them) into another bowl of cool water to which you've added some fresh lemon or lime juice. (You may need to add ice cubes to your bowls of water to keep them cool. Not surprising since you keep putting hot peaches in them, right?)

2) Once the peaches are defuzzed and sliced, set the bowl aside. On the burner that formerly hostes the defuzzing water now put another pot (I know, I know...) with the type of syrup you like - I use very light syrup (6 1/2 cups of water with 1/2 cup of sugar) but you can do a quite sweet heavy syrup (4 cups each sugar and water) if you like, or anything in between. The internet is full of syrup suggestions, most of them fine. Some canning books offer recipes of honey-based syrups and even some sugar substitutes can be used. Do what you like, I won't judge.

3) Pack the drained fruit into your sterilized jars until the fruit is about an inch from the top, and pour in the hot syrup (carefully!) leaving half an inch of headspace. Seal with the sterilized lid and ring.

4) Process in a boiling hot water bath for 15 minutes (starting to count after the water comes to a boil once the jars are lowered).

5) Cool the jars on a tea towel and pat yourself on the back. Listen for that tell-tale ping of a job well done.

6) If you have leftover peaches, make a pie with a crumble crust. Go ahead, you deserve it. If you still leftover peaches, make ice cream. If there remain more peaches, I have to ask: how many did you start with?



Anonymous said...

Hey, cupcake! 16 pounds, but the girl and I each eat 3 per day and it's quick work, but we might have some for the can. Though the freezer is way more likely.

Um, was I supposed to process my jam in a bath? My 1950s BH&G cookbook did not say, but it is not forthcoming on the subject. It's like, "canning, yes! like yr mother and yr grandmother! 'nuff said!" and anyhow, now we will probably all die from botulism.

curious said...

oh lovely, i am so going to make those when peaches come in season. I think I might like peaches even more than mangoes which are frankly only at their best fresh and unadorned. The peach has so much more flexibility.

Mama Squirrel said...

Thanks, Marsha! We are just getting into canning too and are planning on doing some peaches.

ntsc said...

You are unlikely to die of botulism with high acid food like fruits.

Recipes before ~1990 are suspect and any canning recipe that doesn't call for either a boiling water bath or a pressure canner is no longer USDA approved.

I'm thinking of peaches this weekend.

Sadge said...

And if you STILL have more peaches - they're wonderful dried. I put peeled slices out on the deck in the sun (or you can try the back window of a car in the sun with the windows cracked a bit), flip them after a few hours has made a bit of a skin form so they don't stick to the cookie sheet, and when bendy and completely dry inside (a day or so), store them in a baggie. Just like candy!

Deirdre said...

I've just done over 100 jars of plum jam and am sooo ready to move on to another fruit. I've been thinking about peaches - love 'em. Thanks for the directions. They'll make my canning life much easier.

jennconspiracy said...

It's peach season in North Oakland -- I got about 25 pounds of seriously overripe white peaches from a neighbor's tree, with promise of collection of yellow peaches whenever they're ripe.

I would hot water bath peach slices, but definitely save myself some time and extra effort on jelly and jam.

The jelly/jam is so much hotter than you can get the jars or the hot water bath that they will seal up themselves just fine.

For jelly/jam, I keep the sterilized jars in a warm oven around 150-200 (125 is fine).

Pour your sizzling preserves into the jars, clean the rims, put on the lid and band and seal -- you'll hear the magic plink soon enough.

I just put away nearly a gallon of peach juice for jelly and 16 cups of peach meat for jam to be made when I get home from work tomorrow.

I just peeled them by hand - most of the peels just came off in my fingers, and I used a knife to scrape the rest off.

You know, though - I didn't peel or defuzz for apricots and they taste just fine (jelly & jam). Is it necessary to "defuzz" peaches?

Jennifer Bogart said...

Thanks for joining in the Carnival of Home Preserving for July 28th. Please let your readers know that the carnival is now up!

Deirdre said...

I just ordered my peaches from a local farm yesterday - 24 lbs. Yikes! It's my first time canning peaches. I suspect there'll be some jam too.

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