It has been over 8 years since the last time I attempted canning peaches... Or canning anything for that matter! It was the end of August in 2003... I had three full cases of ripe peaches to deal with as soon as possible... I was full term with Twinkle Toes (who was due on September 9th and born on August 30th)... I was working full time trying to transition my customers over to the new company that had recently purchased my business so that I could be a stay-at-home mom... I had only 3 coil burners that worked in my old tiny kithcen... And my only two "helpers" were barely 3 and 1 1/2 years old at the time! I said NEVER AGAIN!!
Well, on my way home from picking up those closet organizers, I stopped by the peach orchard to get some fresh peaches for my girls state study, and ended up purchasing two cases of peaches - a case of Sweet Sue Peaches to eat and a case of Elberta Peaches for canning. I'm not sure what made me make that decision, but it seemed like a good idea at the moment. I did save all those canning supplies, after all! :)
Actually, it was quite a different experience this time around... The girls and I really enjoyed our afternoon in the kitchen, and I had fun teaching them all about blanching and canning!
Elberta Peaches: Firm, yellow-fleshed freestone is ideal for canning and is equally tasty fresh. Plump rose-blushed fruits have fabulous aroma and honey-sweet taste—absolutely bursting with flavor.
By the way, they taste even better than they look!
Here are some pictures of the process, along with the steps we followed:
1. We started by putting our jars and rings into a dishwasher on the sterilize setting (last time I had to boil my jars... I LOVE having a dishwasher!!) and then left them in the dishwasher until we were ready to use them, so that they would stay hot.
2. Place the lids in a small saucepan and heat to a simmer, but don’t boil.
4. Place the peaches into a pot of boiling water and blanch for 30 to 60 seconds.
5. After blanching, place them into a ice water bath to keep them from cooking.
6. Remove skin from peaches. This was the girls' favorite step... They loved seeing the skins just slip right off, without needing a knife or anything.
7. We decided to quarter our peaches. (At this point you can use lemon juice or fruit fresh to keep the peaches from turning brown, but since we didn't have either we just hurried!)
8. Make a syrup. We made a very light syrup by bringing 9 cups of water and 2 1/2 cups of sugar to a boil in a medium saucepan. Twinkle Toes requested this job.
9. Using the Cold Pack Method… Place peaches face (pit side) down in the hot and sterilized bottles, packing them fairly tightly, without squishing them, so they aren’t as likely to float.
10. Carefully pour the hot syrup into the bottles until the peaches are covered, leaving exactly 1/2 inch of space at the top of the bottle.
11. Using a small spatula or butter knife, slide it down each side of the bottle to remove any air bubbles.
12. Wipe rim and screw threads with a clean damp cloth. Add lid, screw band and tighten firmly and evenly. Do not over tighten.
13. Place the jars into the rack of the canner. (Remember to place every other bottle across from each other so you don’t tip the rack over.) The water in the canner can be pretty warm, but not at a boil when you put your jars in, or you’ll break a jar. The jars need to be covered with at least one inch of water. You want your jars covered with about an inch of water. Turn the heat to the highest setting, and set the timer once the water reaches a vigorous boil. Using the time table below we processed our peaches for 35 minutes.
14. Once the jars have processed, carefully lift them out of the water and place them on a towel to cool - without touching or bumping them - leaving about an inch in-between the jars. Once the jars are cool, you can check that they are sealed - verifying that the lid has been sucked down - by pressing gently in the center with your finger. If it pops up and down (often making a popping sound), it is not sealed. (All but one of ours sealed... We'll eat that jar tomorrow with some cottage cheese, one of my children's favorite snacks.)
Notes: If fruit is not covered by liquid it may darken during storage (but does not necessarily mean it is spoiled, as all fruits will darken somewhat).
We ended up with 14 quarts of peaches, and we still have about a half of a case of the Sweet Sue peaches left. I think that I may freeze some of them for smoothies and maybe make a Stone Fruit Tea Cake, to welcome Hubby home next weekend, but if any of you have a favorite peach recipe to share, I'd love some suggestions!