Last night’s blog post was neglected, as I was canning peaches. Yes, the peaches from the farmers market from a few posts back. I’ve made apple jelly before, but never whole fruit. So after picking up 30 lbs of peaches (that seemed right, though I had no idea), some pickling cucumbers and some supplies 2 doz half liter jars and a doz 1 liter jars, I already had some 250ml jars from before, as well as a canning tool it, I got down to work. I’m not going to give you a step by step how to can type post. You have the internet and if you want to know how there are millions of sites to help you out, written by people far more qualified than me. Instead I’m going to tell you a bit of what I did, why, and how it turned out.
First I set up my giant pot to use as water bath, this is what seals the lids once the jars are full. I use a pot with a trivet in the bottom, but there are fancy ones that have a lift out rack and all. I’m cheap, and my pot doesn’t even have the original lid any longer. If I do much more of this I’m gonna get me one of those fancy pots, maybe even a pressure canner to do tomatoes. I’m not sure why tomatoes need a pressure canner, something to look up later, for now I’ll just want the fancy canner without really knowing why I need it. I also set up a pot to boil the lids and sealing rings a pot to blanche the fruit and one to make syrup in. All the while, as I was setting up, I couldn’t help but feel that my grandmother was in heaven watching this newbie go at it, and wondering why I never bothered to get her to teach me. I wonder why I didn’t too, but I think she was smiling down on me. Obviously she’s on my mind a great deal these days.
I wanted to do canned peaches so after blanching the peaches to slip the skins off, and slicing them. I decide on what type of syrup.
Ideally I’ll use fruit juice next year, but this year I thought I ought to play it safe and use sugar since it’s a natural preservative. I chose a light syrup. The whole idea is to create food with no artificial preservatives and control the amount of sugar. The crazy in me is also delighted that since these peaches don’t come in a can there’s no worry of aluminum toxicity. After making the syrup I realize I don’t have a pot big enough to boil the syrup and the peaches in. So I decide to forgo cooking the peaches and cold pack them. You see you have two choices when canning, one is to put the fruit or vegetables in the jar raw and the pour the hot syrup over them and then can them, cold packing ,or to cook the fruit in the syrup, fill the jars and then can them, hot packing. The problem with cold packing is, when cooking the fruit you cook the air out of the fruit, since you’re not cooking it it gets cooked when you’re sealing the jars, then it shrinks down releasing the air and floats in the jar. I did the first batch this way. Tonight I hot packed, and I highly recommend this method for aesthetics, the jar stays nice and full. In a few weeks when I’ve opened both methods I’ll tell you which tastes best.
I also did pickles today, I planned to make my own brine, but in a rare lapse of judgment I didn’t read the pickling spice, and noticed it contained sulphites, I did however get a dill pickle mix that didn’t, so I went that route. I had enough cucumbers to make 2.5 l of dill pickles, so to use up the rest of the brine I also made carrots (1l), zucchini (2 1l jars), a mixture of the three (1l) and radishes (250ml). After finishing up the peaches (21 500ml jars total), I made a batch of peach rhubarb jam (2 500ml jars and 2 250ml jars). In the end all that was left of that giant box of peaches are the six you see in the photo on the left. Amazing, and here I thought I was going to need to freeze a bunch for lack of jars.
I feel this tremendous sense of accomplishment now that it’s all done. It wasn’t difficult, though I would never attempt it while the kids are awake, too many boiling liquids, I’m too disorganized, and it’s too messy. I’m already thinking about how to better plant next years garden, so I can can do some fancy canning. This year I think I’ll do some more jams, hopefully I can get to a berry farm. Truthfully I can’t wait to do some more. It’s a good deal of fun. I recommend getting a kitchen buddy, as it goes better with an extra set of hands and someone to visit with. Besides who else is going to take your picture while you measure the correct amount of head space otherwise 😉