Canning – Part I – Peaches

My mom got me a bushel of peaches last week and I was so excited!  I still am!  They are so good!  So sweet and juicy!  Perfect for a cool summer dessert!  If you’ve never had an orchard peach you are missing out!  I purchased a few peaches as a treat last week from the grocery store and it was such a disappointment.  They were hard, grainy and had no flavor.  These were just the opposite!

Last year I canned peach pie filling and peach preserves!  I still have a fair amount left, so I didn’t need to do any more of that.  I try to can enough of each item so that I don’t have to do it again for 1-2 years.  Last time I canned peaches was 2 years ago and we were out!  We just ate the last jar about 2 weeks ago.  These are a perfect treat in the winter when fresh fruit is expensive and flavorless!  These also turn out pretty sweet, so we usually have them for dessert or in fruit salad.

In the past I’ve made a sugar syrup to preserve the peaches in, which is what my Mom and grandmother have done ever since I was little.  I wanted a better and healthier way to do it and saw a great idea at Trader Joes.  They had canned peaches that were in white grape juice.  I purchased a 16 oz jar (for $3.50 – I about choked) to give them a try and see how they tasted.  They are definitely not a sweet as Mom’s version, but still good and worth the effort!

I found white grape and peach juice at Costco and purchased 2.5 gallons!  It was the perfect amount.  I’ll try and explain all the details of how to can below.  If you have more questions, please let me know and I can clarify.  Also… I can using the old ball or mason canning lids.  I know they have BPA in them, but I haven’t been able to get new jars or new lids.  I know there are a lot of other options out there, but I just haven’t had the money to replace what I have.  I also figure the food doesn’t really touch the lids anyway.

Some of the other options are BPA free re-usable lids and re-usable rings which are available on [amazon_link id=”B0051PDXCQ” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Amazon[/amazon_link] or I’ve also seen them at Tattler for a decent price.  They are also made in the USA which is huge in my book! Lehman’s is a great place for purchasing canning equipment and they also carry these lids.

The other option is the European canning jars that have glass lids.  I think they are absolutely beautiful, but also pricey!  I would love to replace my stash of jars with these, but I can’t justify it.  I now have probably over 7 or 8 dozen canning jars! These can also be purchased at Lehman’s or directly from Weck.  Just a note… canning jars are different than just glass jars.  You cannot use glass mayonnaise or pickle jars for canning.  They must be [amazon_link id=”B000X1O8BI” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Ball[/amazon_link], [amazon_link id=”B000VDUS8A” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Kerr[/amazon_link] or Presto canning jars.  These can be found at most grocery stores or hardware stores or on amazon.

So… on to canning peaches:

Ingredients:

1 bushel of peaches
20 quart sized canning jars
20 lids
20 rings
2 ½ gallons of white grape or white grape and peach juice
[amazon_link id=”B0001UZL80″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Granite Ware 11-1/2 Quart Covered Preserving Canner with Rack[/amazon_link]Water Bath Canner

Other supplies that make it easier:
Large pot for boiling water
[amazon_link id=”B000HJBFGC” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Norpro 600 Jar Lifter[/amazon_link]Jar lifter – for removing hot jars from the canner
[amazon_link id=”B001DLPGEK” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Victorio VKP1004 Kitchen/Canning Tongs[/amazon_link]Tongs – for picking up hot sterilized lids

Instructions:

First boil a large pot of water. Take about ½ of the peaches and put them in the sink with the stopper in the drain.  Also place all of canning jars in dishwasher and wash and dry on the hot or sterilize setting.  Once water is boiling pour over the peaches.  Make sure they are completely covered and let sit for 5-10 minutes.  Drain water.

I prefer to half the peaches, remove the seed and remove the skin.  I only have narrow mouthed jars, so if the peaches are large I have to quarter them.  This last time the peaches were lemon sized and that was perfect for canning in narrow mouth jars.

I usually peal and cut a peach and then put it in the jar and as soon as the jar is full, add the juice.  If you leave the peaches out too long they start to oxidize and turn a dark brown.  There isn’t anything wrong with that except they don’t look as nice.

While you are close to finishing packing the jars, put on a small pot of water to boil.  Once boiling, turn off the heat and add the canning lids.  Let soak for about 5-10 minutes.

Layer the peaches carefully in the jars.  Place the pit side down in the jar and layer peaches to the top.  Fill to the bottom of the neck of the jar.  Pour white grape juice to the bottom of the neck leaving about 1 inch of space.

Use hot cloth to clean off rim of glass jars after filling.  If any peaches or juice is left on the rim they will not seal properly.  Once clean, use the tongs to pull the lids out of the hot water one by one and place on top of the filled jars.  Screw on rings tightly.

Place all of jars into water bath in the canning rack.  Fill water bath canner so that water covers the jars by about 1 inch.  Remove all the jars and heat water.  Bring it close to a boil, but not boiling and use jar lifters to place filled jars into the rack.  Bring to rolling boil and keep at a boil for 30 minutes.

If you are at a higher altitude they may need to process for longer.  You can refer to Pick Your Own for additional canning instructions.  I use this site a lot as a resource.

Once they are finished processing, turn off the heat and remove the jars from the water.  Sometimes you will hear a pop as the jars seal, but sometimes it can’t be heard.  Mine usually seal with in the first hour or two of removing them from the water, but it can take up to 12-24 hours.  If it is over 24 hours and they haven’t sealed then place the jar in the refrigerator and use them within a few days or you can try to re-process them.  If you re-process, you will need to throw that lid away, re-wash the top of the jar and place a new sterilized lid and the ring on the jar.

I find canning to be therapeutic and quite rewarding.  It provides a lot of great treats for winter and food that we all enjoy eating!  It is also quite pretty to have it displayed on a shelf!  Give it a try and let me know how it works for you!

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