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Sunday, August 29, 2010

What's Cookin?: Canned Peaches

This summer I've gone all out with the peaches! I've never bought so many peaches in my life! They've been extra delicious this year. I've canned 2 batches of them thus far. It's a way to preserve the delicious-ness of summer!!

I used the information on www.pickyourown.org/ for reference when canning my peaches. Here's some general information on selecting peaches that I found handy:

- Select peach varieties that are sweet. Peaches that are freestone (cling-free) work best because the pits separate easily from the peaches. However, I bought some Sweet Sue Too Peaches that were not freestone and they separated nicely when ripe.
- After purchasing peaches, store them on the counter on newspaper to ripen. Be sure to place them stem side down.
- Allow the peaches to ripen before trying to can them (it'll make your job much easier). To test ripeness, the fleshy part of the peach around the stem should just give a bit.
- I found about 8 large peaches make about 5 pints of canned peaches. I used the wide mouth jars for easy packing. The pick your own website sites these quantities and end results:
- 5 good size peaches=1 quart jar
- 17.5 lbs =7 quarts
- 11 lbs=9 pints
- a bushel=48 lbs=16-24 quarts (avg 2.5 lbs per quart)

Canned Peaches

1) Prepare your canning jars
You can use one of the following methods:
a) Dishwasher: Wash and dry the glass jars (only jars) in the dishwasher on the "sterilize" cycle or complete hot water cycle. Keep the dishwasher door closed until you are ready to use them. Remove them one at a time when using them.
b) Hot Water Bath: Submerge jars (only jars) fully in the hot water (make sure there is enough room to cover jars by at least a few inches), bringing the water to a simmer (180 degrees F) and keep jars simmering for at least 10 minutes until just ready to use.
You will also need to sanitize your metal lids before using them. Most sources say not to reuse the lids (something I didn't know). Make sure you have fresh lids for your mason jars. You can wait to sanitize these (just before you need them). I use a "lid rack" and dip them in the hot water for about 5 minutes in almost boiling water just before I need them.

You won't have to sanitize the metal mason jar rings. Just wash these with soap and rinse with hot water.

2) Prepare the Peaches
Wash your peaches and drain them in a colander.
Blanching peaches is an easy way to remove the skin (and works best with ripe peaches). Bring a large pot of water to a boil on the stove. Dip a few peaches in the boiling water at a time. Leave them in for 30-60 seconds. Remove them with a large slotted spoon and immediately transfer them to a large iced water bath to stop the cooking process.
Remove your peaches from the water and drain them in the colander. I usually do the rest of the prep work with disposable gloves as the peaches can be slimy. Peel the skins off the peaches. I usually start at the bottom of the peaches and the skins come off easily and in large pieces. If your peaches weren't ripe, the skins will not come off easily. Try re-blanching them and keep trying.

**Save your skins to make peach honey! Store them in the freezer until you have enough**
Cut out any brown spots and mushy areas on the peaches. Cut the peaches in half, remove pits. Cut up peaches to your liking (ie: halves, quarters or slices) in a large bowl. I like mine in quarters.
Peaches will turn brown when exposed to air. To prevent discoloration, mix with lemon juice (enough to coat peaches) or 1/2 tsp Fruit Fresh (ascorbic acid) per 1 c. sliced peaches. I used the Fruit Fresh. Stir the peaches to make sure all the surfaces have been coated.

3) Make your Simple Syrup
Pour out the hot water you used to blanch your peaches. Reuse the large pot to make your syrup. You can decide which type of syrup you would like to use. I use the light syrup.
- light: 2 c. sugar, 6 c. water = 7 c. syrup
- medium: 3 c. sugar, 6 c. water = 6.5 c. syrup
- heavy: 4 c. sugar, 6 c. water = 7 c. syrup

Add the water to your pot and on medium heat, slowly stir in your sugar. Stir constantly until the sugar is dissolved. Bring syrup to a gentle boil and keep it simmering (not boiling) until you are ready to use it.

4) Hot Pack Peaches
**This is a good time to add your metal lids to your water bath while you finish up the peaches so they'll be ready to use**

If you used lemon juice on your peaches, drain your peaches first. Add your peaches to the barely boiling syrup solution and cook for 5 minutes.

5) Packing the Peaches
Pack your peaches tightly into sanitized jars. Leave about 1/2 inch of headspace at the top. Cover the peaches with your hot syrup solution (still leaving 1/2 inch of headspace).
Run a rubber spatula or non-metal knife gently between the peaches and the jar to release trapped air bubbles. Try tilting the jar slightly while running the tool between the fruit and the edge of the jar and press inward against the fruit a few times.
6) Processing the Jars
Wipe the jars (especially the rim) with a clean and damp cloth. Remove your lids from the hot water and turn the stove up to high. Using a magnetic "lid lifter", grab lids one by one and fit on top of the jar. Attach a screw ring and tighten firmly (but not too tight).

Place your jars into the hot water bath using a "jar grabber". Make sure there is at least 1-2 inches of water covering the tops of the jars. Place the cover on your pot and bring your water to a rolling boil. Process pint sized jars for about 20 minutes and quart sized jars for about 25 minutes. Start your countdown only when your water bath reaches a rolling boil.

After your time is up, turn off stove. Using a "jar grabber", remove jars out of the water and let them cool on a clean, dry cloth overnight. Leave about 1-2 inches of space between jars. Do not touch jars or check lids.

Once the jars are cool, you can check the seals. Press the center of the lid gently. If it pops down and up, the seal is no good and the jar should be re-processed. If the center of the lid feels concave and it doesn't pop when pressed, it has sealed. At this point, you can remove the screw bands if you like. Store jars that have sealed in a cool, dry and dark place.

2 comments:

Heather@myeverydaygraces said...

Yum, way to go! I canned a lot of peaches last year but haven't done any this year. Your post reminded me that I need to get busy or I'll miss it!

Thanks, Holly:)

~Holly~ said...

Good luck Heather! This was my first year so hopefully mine turned out okay! I've been enjoying the delicious peaches this year. Had to find a way to savor them all year round!