Thursday, September 3, 2015

Canning Peaches

It's the most wonderful time of the year! Peaches and peaches and peaches!!

We've been a bit behind on processing and putting up fruits and veggies for the year. But, peaches are looking great.
We got three big crates and spent all of Tuesday peeling, cutting, jarring, and eating so many peaches!
We ended up with about two dozen jars of peaches, which will hopefully last us until next season.

It's all worth it. Charlie goes crazy for peaches, and who doesn't love a good fruit pie in the middle of winter? Warm and gooey, with a big scoop of ice cream.. now it's so simple. We really love local and fresh too, so this is our best option.

It is a LOT of work though, so I was more then happy when Mom got home from work to help with the jarring part. My goodness, I could not have finished without her.

So, here's how we do our peaches..

We look for the best, ones with big bad spots are put aside to be cut up and frozen (or eaten while we work). This just makes it a little bit easier when we're peeling and slicing the peaches we plan to can. You don't want any bruises going into the jar because that can ruin the whole container. You want something that is at a good ripeness, the kind that gives a little when you squeeze it, but doesn't drip juice.

So the best ones are washed, get a small x (let's say quarter size) cut into the bottom, and parboiled..
- This is a ~30 second bath in boiling water then plop them right into an ice bath. Once cooled off (10 seconds) I pull them out and grab one of those flaps from the x we cut in the bottom. This just helps it peel a bit easier. Also, here's where it's important to really have the best, properly ripened peaches. Too ripe and you'll lose a lot of flesh, not ripe enough and it's very hard to peel.

Once they're peeled we check for any bruises and cut out the pit. I like mine to be halved or quarter when I open them up in the winter, so cut to whatever your preference is. You should be left with a big bowl of beautiful peach flesh with no bruises and not pits or stems.

Toss those peaches into a jar until it is almost full. Now there is a liquid added into the peaches to keep them at the right consistency. If you want no sugar added, you can just fill it up to a half inch below the rim, with water. If you aren't worried about it make a simple syrup and toss that in it's place. This year, for the first time, we made a light simple syrup with local honey. I boiled about 4 cups of water to a cup and a half honey. (occasionally a little less honey, we'll see how it turns out). I love honey, in everything, so hopefully theseare as delicious as usual!
 ** The simple syrup is to keep the color and consistency of the peaches, adding water will not hurt the peaches, but they may brown a bit more and not quite stay the same. Totally your own preference.

So jars are full and ready to hit the water bath. Mom and I had a disagreement, and met in the middle, at 25 minutes. All the tops popped, no casualties. All in all, a pretty good canning experience.

 Here we are right in the middle of a few steps at once, we've got some fresh peaches, peeled peaches, peaches in need of simple syrup, and a few ready to go. It really was a team effort.

And in case you were wondering, of COURSE Charlie was helping us. Here she is getting sleepy, so mom took a break to read her a book.