My favourite fruit is peaches. But not just fresh peaches that come at the height (or like this year, at the end) of summer….and I love those same peaches canned. I grew up with perfectly canned peaches. My Mom loved to make the jars as beautiful to look at as they were to eat. Mine are just good to eat… I don’t have the patience, nor the time, for perfectly halved, canned peaches. Mine are sliced… and every which way too as you will see later on.
Even just driving home with a box in your car is an experience… that sweet, fresh, scent of peaches. We are lucky because the Okanagan area of BC is not far, only a 4 hr drive away, so to get boxes of fresh peaches is easy and cheap.
Today I got a box at Thumper Patch for $14.99 and all were ripe except for a few. Today dawned overcast and by 8:30 the rain was pouring. Can’t ask for better circumstances for a canning day. If I had been REALLY motivated I would have planned on more, but as you know, I like small batches…Seriously, it took barely an hour to get them all in the canner.
I use a website http://www.pickyourown.org/peachescanning.htm as my go-to place to double check my quantities etc. This site is full of all sorts of processing information… AND you really should check it out, just to see the lady who is sharing all this knowledge… She is so cute! and seems to know everything about processing the bounty from the garden to the orchard.
I use an immersion canner. The lady on the website, uses a steamer canner, though the powers that be in the US food administration have not ‘approved’ steamer canning, this lady seems to still be alive after years of using one. I also inherited a pressure canner… but so far have no built up enough confidence to attempt to use the thing.
Canning peaches is easy, not as easy as apricots, but a close second. Out of 20 lbs of peaches, about 17.5 lbs will give you 7 quarts… unless you eat too many as you are peeling. Here is how I do it:
Turn on the ice machine, or just use your ice cubes from the freezer. You kind of have to plan a bit so that you have ice made.
Wash and rinse 7 quart jars, 7 rings, 7 lids
Put the jars in a pan in the oven set to 200 F
Put lids and rings in a pot of water and heat to hot, not boiling, to sterilize. Remember everything needs to be sterilized, sterilized, sterilized…
Get a BIG pot of water boiling, I use my All-clad 8 qt. Put it on the front burner, the lids and rings on the back burner behind it.
Get your sugar-water ready. I make light syrup and could put it on the back element behind the canner, but I have a nifty portable GE hot plate and put it on high on it so that you have a bit more room on the stove top… so I use it.
Light syrup – 2 cups sugar, 6 cups water. I did it double but could have just made 1.5 times, get it to boil, then let cool down a bit.
Fill your sink up with cold water and add ice… put an empty, large container beside the sink, have fruit fresh on hand.
Drop 10 peaches or so into the boiling water, boil a minute maybe… not too long, remove from boiling water and drop in ice water. Now the peels come off very easily, peel, cut and pit and put slices in the empty, large container. With every layer, sprinkle some fruit fresh to prevent browning. After your 10 peaches are cut, drop 10 more into the water that has come back up to boil. I just eyeball it and leave about 8 or 9 peaches over from a 20 lb box and trust I have enough for the canner full.
Jars come out of the oven, line them up on the counter with the pot of lids and rings, the pot of syrup, and start filling the jars. When 7 are filled, pour the syrup over the peaches up to 1/2 inch below lip, shove a knife down the side of the jar to remove air bubbles, fill with more syrup if needed, WIPE the rims really well, place lids, then rings on the jars, put jars in canner, starting with the centre spot. Lower the jars on the rack into the canner, bring the canner up to boil and set timer for 25 minutes.
When 25 minutes are up, I raise up the rack, get out the jar grabber and put all the jars on a rack to cool. Some of them seal immediately, some take a bit longer. By the time I was finished with this post, all of the jars were sealed. When they have cooled, wipe them down because the syrup squeezes out and over the sides and will attract… ahem…. mice… Label and put them away… and wait for winter so that you can eat them!