Wednesday, August 31, 2011

How to can 80 lbs of peaches!

I didn't intend to take a blogging break but peaches and all the other activities of the past couple of weeks caught up with me.  I spent the last few days recovering from busyness and getting the last of my ducks in a row for the new school year which starts tomorrow for us.  At last I feel recovered enough and in control of my time enough to sit down and blog again.

So you wanna know how to can peaches?  It isn't hard but it is a bit time consuming.

First you must acquire your peaches.  There are many places to get them:  At any grocery store, farmer's market, roadside stand, farm or my favorite... picking them yourself.  I'm very blessed to live in a very bountiful region. U-picks for all sorts of delicious fruits and veges abound.  The reason I like picking things myself?  It's fun, cheap, a great family activity and I like my children to know where food really comes from. 

Once the fruit is in your custody you must acquire a few more things. You will need: jars, rings, lids (widemouth is better for peaches), sugar, a water bath canner, a knife, hot pads, a towel and two handy dandy little utensils;  A jar grabber and a magnetic lid catcher. (Okay, those are probably not their official names, but that's what our family calls them.)  It doesn't hurt to have a Ball Blue Book Guide To Preserving on hand either. (A current version, not your great-grandmother's copy from the 1930's.  The science of food preservation has come a long way.)

 Jars in the dishwasher

 Rings in the dishwasher

 Lids boiling on the stove

The "jar grabber" and "lid grabber"... so you don't have to stick your fingers in boiling water!

Scald and peel a few peaches at a time.  (Scalding helps the peels release from the fruit easier.) Cut peaches in halves or quarters (Discarding the pit with the peels- you can compost those.) and pack them into your clean and washed jars.

Next you must make a simple syrup to pour over the peaches.  It is a combination of sugar and water.  Check the Ball Blue Book for exact recipes.  ( also has great info.) Once the syrup is ready (It is hot and all the sugar is dissolved.) pour it over the peaches, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace in your jar.  Put a lid on the jar and seal it with a ring.  (Make sure to have boiled your lids- not just wash them- and make sure they are new.  You can reuse jars and rings but the lids should be new each time to ensure a proper seal. Also check the rims of your jars for knicks or anything that might prevent a tight seal from forming.)

 simple syrup

 jar ready for hot water processing

the water bath canner

Once you get enough jars processed put them in your water bath canner and fill it up with water until the jars are totally covered. Bring this to a boil and then leave the peaches to process for 25 minutes. (Some people prefer to keep their jars hot, the syrup hot and put the jars straight into boiling water.  But never put cold jars in hot water or hot jars in cold water.)  After they are done, remove the jars and place them on a towel covered counter to cool.  When they are cool, wipe them down so they aren't sticky and you are ready for the next batch.  Also make sure to check the jars to make sure they sealed properly.  If they didn't you can try processing in another waterbath or refridgerate and eat the contents of the jar promptly.)

This is what I do.  Please check the links provided in this post and read up on canning before starting.  Canning isn't hard but if not done right can make you very sick or even cause death.

No comments: