Today’s surprise trip to the Farmer’s Market resulted in some gorgeous peaches, and since I have been dying to can some this year, I decided to dedicate these to this purpose.
Right off the bat, I want to say that this is possible because I have finally embraced the notion of “No such thing as too small a batch” to bother with. I know women who won’t even heat a kettle of water unless they are working with 20 pounds or more of produce, but if I waited to can until I had 20 pounds of something I would have a pretty sparsely populated pantry. I am employing some water-saving tactics here, though, and I will include these instructions as I go.
Start, of course, with ripe, unblemished fresh fruit. A bump or 2 is ok, but watch for overripe fruit with lots of soft spots. The flavor just isn’t there, and the will go to mush in the canner, even with a cold pack.
Before you begin, make a sugar syrup (approximately 2 cups of sugar in 4 or so cups of water). Boil the syrup for at least 10 minutes. Longer if you like a heavy syrup (the water cooks away and leaves a thicker, more concentrated, sugary syrup. I like mine a bit lighter).
Put all the jars you may need to contain the fruit in a canning kettle and boil them off to sterilize. Once the water is boiling, this same kettle can be used to blanch the peaches to make them easier to peel. Always peel your peaches (or tomatoes) before canning. The skin just gets weird and rather undesirable.
Drop the peaches into the boiling water and let them bob around (or sink) for about 3-5 minutes. Fish one out and test for peelablility. The skin should come away easily as the immediate flesh begins to cook from being in the boiling water and allows the skin to release. Now, some varieties of peaches peel more readily than others, and I am not going to lie; some are an absolute pain in the arse. Those just have to be peeled more like a raw potato, removing a bit of the flesh at the same time. I pray you find the easiest peeling varieties at a Farmer’s Market near you. I had some of each to work with, today. Always ask when you buy them to avoid varieties whose skin clings.
Once blanched, peel them. Then, either halve or slice the fruit for packing. Wide mouth jars work the best for peaches, but if they are slices, regular mouth ones will work,too.
Then cold pack the fruit into the sterilized jars. You can allow them to settle down, but don’t “cram” as much in as will fit. You will need to leave plenty of head space at the top of the jars to allow for expansion.
Pour syrup over fruit, leaving the appropriate head space, and wipe the edges of the jars. Firmly tighten lids and rings and place in the still boiling water. For this mission, we have used only 1 kettle of water for sterilizing jars, blanching fruit and water bath canning the jars. From a rolling boil, begin timing for 20 minutes.
When your timer goes off, remove the jars from the water bath and place them on a towel on the counter, where they can rest overnight or until cool.
You will want to think about how you will use them, later, to determine what size jars to use. If you have a small family, you may want to use pints, rather than quarts. This batch, I did one quart, to use for peach cobbler, and 2 pints to use for crepes with peaches (which is my husband’s favorite), during the winter. If you have a large family, you may want to strictly can quarts.
These beautiful jars of late-Summery goodness will be waiting for you in Winter, when it feels like Summer may never come again. There are no preservatives or chemicals and yet they are perfectly safe to use within one year of canning them.
There is no better way to stick it to Monsanto than choosing healthy organic produce in season and canning it for later. Take that BigFood!
Now that’s Awesome America at work!!!