Sunday, July 18, 2010

I Think I Can...Can (Peach Canning Tutorial)

Despite my slower self these days, the garden is producing like crazy.  On our first visit back, we brought home an armload of goodies; even though I had invited my garden helpers to take what became ripe during our absence, "ripe" is a daily occurrence now. The farm markets are prolific and tempting as well; Peter loves peaches, so we bought a basket to preserve for the winter. Yesterday, in addition to the sweet peppers and corn we bought for our dinner (my peppers aren't red yet), I bought a bag of plum tomatoes for confit.

I love confit.  Can't get enough of it.

I'm dying to dry some corn for the winter.  I do it on a large, old fashioned corn drier.  I first encountered these back in my hippie days when I lived on the farm in Stonersville (no joke, that's what it was called...near Reading, PA. Google it.) The drier was meant to be used on an old fashioned cook stove, which we had then, but I don't have now.  When I found one at an antique store, I bought it anyway; and it works just fine on my gas range. More about that later; I'm saving my corn-drying for later in the season.

Today will be all about peaches!
* Your jars should be in your canner, getting a boiling bath!
Step 1: Wash those sweet peaches!

Step 2: Pull out the soft or bruised ones, cut them off the pit and throw them in your crock pot (on low). Tomorrow, this will magically become peach butter!

Step 3: Dunk your firm, ripe, luscious peaches into boiling water for a few minutes to loosen the skin  (approx. 3-5 minutes...experiment), then immediately transfer to ice water.

Step 4: Skin and slice the peaches, then put in a citric acid bath.  Plain old lemon juice with water works fine; just 1/4 cup of lemon juice. Or you can use a commercial fruit freshener.  I used citric acid because I have some for making fresh cheese. This will keep your fruit from discoloring.

Step 5: Make your syrup.  I chose a medium syrup, which was 1 part sugar to 2 parts water.  Here's a good chart (and site) for you if you want more details. When your syrup is just barely boiling, put in your peaches.
* Your jars should be removed from the canner at this point, so they stay hot and sterile.

Step 6: Place peaches in the sterile jars.  See the site for canning details (I'm typing with 2 fingers of my left hand.  I'll explain why in tomorrow's post.) Add syrup to fill jar, leaving 1/2" head space.

Step 7: Clean rims and place sterile lids and metal rings on jars (finger tight). Place jars back in canner.  See website for processing times.

Step 8: Remove and let cool.  Don't fool around with the jars until tomorrow; then check the tops.  If the little dimple in the middle is down, you have a seal. Like these:

Yum!  Open whenever you want a taste of in February!  Or even next week, if you're greedy!
Tomorrow: Peach butter!
(P.S. All your peach scraps and any leftovers except for pits can go in the crock pot. Leave it on low overnight; stir occasionally.  My crock was full.)

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