Monday, August 31, 2009

Canning Peaches



I'm like Ally McBeal, there's always a soundtrack playing in my head. And I can't preserve peaches without this song, released in my senior year of high school, playing over and over in my mind as I put peaches into the jars. Does anyone else remember this?

Peaches lyrics from the Presidents of the United States of America

Movin' to the country,
gonna eat a lot of peaches
Movin' to the country,
Gonna eat me a lot of peaches
Movin' to the country,
gonna eat a lot of peaches
Movin' to the country,
gonna eat a lot of peaches

Peaches come from a can,
they were put there by a man
In a factory downtown
If I had my little way,
I'd eat peaches every day
Sun-soakin' bulges in the shade

Millions of peaches, peaches for me
Millions of peaches, peaches for free...


Now on to these gorgeous, gorgeous Michigan Red Haven Peaches.



Red Haven are my favorite variety of peach. They're juicy, sweet, fine grained, semi-freestone, and they're great fresh, frozen (my favorite), or canned. Most importantly, they're so pretty! I love how the brilliant red center gives my jar of peaches a pretty pink hue. I may be biased because I grew up eating this variety of peaches, but it is an educated choice. I've tried California peaches, a variety of Georgia peaches, and most recently Ohio peaches. In my opinion, these Michigan Red Haven peaches win grand prize in the taste test.

I've been fortunate. Year after year these peaches just turn up at my mom and grandma's houses. I don't really know the details, except that my uncle knows a guy in Michigan and obtains a truckfull of peaches from him every summer. This means that the women in my family are busy putting up peaches every year around this time. I'm not complaining, a day or two of work means that we get to enjoy this delicious fruit all year round.

We always lay the peaches out to finish ripening. This is the pool table in my grandma's basement. My mom usually puts down newspaper in the garage, basement, or laundry room and we spread out the peaches there. Once the peaches are ripe, you have a small window (a day or two) to begin preserving. In my experience, peaches go from ripe to rotten pretty quickly.



Once the peaches are ready for preservation, run a sink full of water and place some peaches in the sink to ready them for peeling. You can also drop the peaches into boiling water for 20-30 seconds and then plunge into cold water and the skins will come right off without even using a paring knife. I find that ripe peaches peel so easily, that I skip the boiling step.




Prepare quart-sized jars by washing and drying. A bushel (48-50 lbs) of peaches yields approximately 21 quart of canned peaches, so I washed 21 jars before starting.



Now you're ready to halve and pit the peaches. Just look at the color around the pit. Gotta love those Red Haven peaches!



Fill a bowl with water and Fruit Fresh or other ascorbic-acid color keeper. Submerse the peeled peaches. I usually clean peaches until this bowl is full, then begin filling the jars.



Drain the peaches in a colander, then fill the jars by placing peaches cut side down. Stack the peaches on top of one another to the top, leaving 1/2" headspace. I fill to the bottom line where the canning ring screws on. Wide mouth jars work best when canning halved peaches so that you can get your hand down in there and arrange the peaches more easily.



Before I even touched a peach in this canning endeavor, I made a light syrup. In a large pot, I combined 20 cups of water and 10 cups of sugar. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to keep hot while you fill the jars with peaches.



Rather than just write about how to prepare the peaches and put them into jars with the syrup, I had a brainstorm as I was placing peaches into the first jar. I could show you. Because I was at my parent's house, I had a camera man. My dear old dad. Okay, so not that old. Sorry, Dad. We did this in one take because my dad was anxious to return to the pole barn. Of course, when you watch yourself on camera you're extra critical. Why didn't I say this? Why didn't I pull my hair outta my eyes? Why was I wearing that horrible apron?! Hey, don't knock the apron! That happens to be my peach canning apron. Actually, it was the first apron I grabbed off the top of my mom's apron drawer. All ruffle-y and heart embroidered and from the looks of it, straight from a 1978 church bazaar. Gotta love it! At least it kept the sticky peach juice off of my favorite rhinestone-embellished Margaritaville tee shirt. I also added a little background muzak (that is, ambient background music)to the video to tone down the distracting sound of my children playing loudly outside of the kitchen window. You may hear, "Look mom, I'm driving!" I hope to put together more instructional clips in the future, so there's room for improvement. Now that I've established my disclaimer, here you go:



When the jars are filled and ready to process, place them in a water bath canner filled with heated water. The water should cover the top of the jars by 1". Cover and bring the water to a boil. Quarts of peaches should process for 25 minutes. This water bath canner holds 7 quart-sized jars at a time. I put in one batch and then continue to clean peaches and fill jars while it processes. This way, by the time one canner full of peaches is cooling, the next one is ready to begin.



Remove the jars with a canning jar lifter and place them on a dry towel to cool. Leave at least 1" of space between jars to allow air to circulate.



Just like the salsa, the peaches will seal as they cool. You'll know that the jars have sealed by observing the following:
•Hear the seal - Hear the "plink" as lid snaps down while jar is cooling, or tap lid with spoon when jar is cold. A clear ringing sound means a seal.
•Observe the seal - If the lid is curved down, the jar is sealed.
•Press the seal - After the jars have cooled, press the center of the lid. If it is down and will not move, the jar is sealed.

Once the jar is cool, remove the rings or screw bands. Ring bands free of rust may be reused. Wash and dry them and store for future use. Label each jar with the date canned and contents. Store the peaches in a cool, dark, dry place such as a shelf in your basement or your pantry. But first, sit back and admire the fruits of your labor. Isn't this lovely? And yummy too! My family just polished off the first jar tonight for dessert.



Canned Peaches

Equipment:

20-23 clean quart sized widemouth canning jars
20-23 widemouth canning lids
20-23 widemouth ring bands
hot water bath canner
canning jar lifter
canning lid lifter
ladle
canning funnel
colander
large bowl
paring knife
towels

Ingredients:

1 bushel of your favorite ripe peaches
20 cups water
10 cups sugar
Fruit Fresh or other ascorbic acid color keeper

Make a light syrup by combining water and sugar. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and keep hot. Halve, pit, and peel peaches. Drop into a bowl prepared with water and Fruit Fresh. Drain the Fruit Fresh water off of the peaches by placing them in a colander. Place drained peaches into a jar, cut side down, filling to first line at the top. Using a funnel, ladle syrup over the peaches until the syrup reaches the fill line. Release air bubbles in the jar by running a table knife down the side. Wipe tops of jars. Place heated canning lid on each jar and tightly screw down the ring bands. Add the jars to the heated water in a water bath canner. Make sure that the water in the canner covers the jars by 1". Cover the canner and bring to a boil. Process 30 minutes. Remove from canner. Cool completely. Check seal. Label. Store.

9 comments:

Mary said...

They look Beeuteeful!! I can only imagine how wonderful they taste.

Coleen's Recipes said...

Gorgeous!! I am very envious. Our peaches are not a very good quality AND they are over $2 a pound, so canning is out of the question. Yours look beautiful.

Chicago Mom said...

That is it! After reading about the salsa, and now these peaches, I am gonna have to convince my husband that we need to move to the country (we have wanted to for awhile now anyway) to a house that has a canning kitchen in the basement! I would LOVE to 'put things up' and have a real garden. I am SO jealous! :)

the ungourmet said...

My husband and I love that song! Mmm. Peaches are good! Thanks so much for the canning instructions!

girlichef said...

I sooooo want to can a bounty of veggies & fruits...so jealous :D They look wonderful...and I do remember that song. I seriously do sing a little bit of it everytime I see peaches :/

Katy ~ said...

Have Mercy! Those golden globes of goodness just swimming in all that syrup look terrific! A gift from the gods!

Elizabeth said...

This is really cool - thanks for documenting the process. I always wondered how canning worked.

Brenda said...

DO you have any trouble with your raw-pack peaches turning brown?

Krista said...

Brenda, so sorry that I missed this question. I do notice that a year or so later, that the 2 jars of peaches remaining in my pantry are a bit darker yellow-orange...but not brown. I'm guessing that the Fruit Fresh helps?

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