Monday, August 25, 2008

canned peaches- a guest blog.

sanders

Honestly, if you had told me at age 11 that in 13 years, I'd be sitting at a table with Matt Sanders discussing canning methods, I'd think you were insane. To put it mildly, in the 6th grade, we did not get along very well. But- over a decade has elapsed, and through the magic of mutual friends, the internet, and the contained biosphere that is Portland, OR- we have become friends, and chat sometimes on the computer, or occasionally over coffee if we bump into each other at the cafe. Recently, talk has turned to canning. Matt's doing his family a solid by carrying on canning recipes given to him by his grandmother (which is awesome, in my opinion) and today he decided to put up some peaches.

peaches

My mom canned jam frequently when I was little (and still makes freezer jam pretty often), but my involvement was usually limited to trudging up and down the big hill in our backyard with a massive bucket of blackberries, then grumbling about the heat in our muggy kitchen as I washed my scratches off in the sink. I never thought to sit down with her and learn how to do it! (for the umpteenth time- SORRY MOM.)

To the uninitiated, the idea of canning fruit seems kind of scary. Botulism, broken seals, blah blah blah- apparently when it comes to canning fruit, it's not such a big deal. Matt assures me that fruit, when put up improperly, will simply mold or give off a horrific stench- more than enough to let you know that it's not okay to eat.

If this recipe is a little too vague for you (what, has he been hanging out with my husband?):
peaches7

Matt has done me the favor of detailing his process:

Prepare the syrup:
4c water + 1c honey +1c sugar. If you're really feeling it, you can add more honey. get it warm and evenly dissolved, but not boiling, EVAR. You can use heavier syrups, but I like the light kind and it's what my family has always used.

peaches3

Prepare the jars:
Wash the jars. Put the jars in boiling water for 20 minutes. Put the lids and the rings in for a couple minutes. You can reuse rings, but ALWAYS buy new lids, as the seals are only good once. You can use old lids for things like freezer jam, lids on jars for frozen stock, etc., just don't trust them for another complete seal.

peaches2

Prepare the peaches:
If you can, get freestone peaches, as they will come off the pit easier. these are mostly available late in the season...the closer to September, the higher likelihood a peach will be a freestone. Canning peaches need to be just a little overripe, if you've got some bruising, awesome. Don't worry about it. Pretty fruit is overrated. Stick them in some boiling water for a minute give or take. run it under cold water, and the skin will pretty much come off in your hands (except for that one I had to use the knife on). Cut them into halves, slices, chunks, whatever you want. i like halves, but that's only possible with freestones.

peaches4

Cut those bitches and put them into the jars. (Editor's note: Jeez, Matt! My mom reads this! Oh wait, my mom knows that I have a mouth like a sailor. Carry on.)

peaches5

Pour your syrup all over your cut peaches.

Pull out the lids and rings, and while swearing and cursing that your fingers are melting off, place the lids on, and just hand tighten the ring. Just needs to be firm, not wrenched on there or anything. Then, place the jars back into a large pot full of boiling water, and boil for 25 minutes for pint-sized jars, 30 minutes for quarts.

Turn them upside down, and they'll cool faster. Let them sit overnight, and then you can take the rings off. If the lid is bulged or you can press it in, the seal didn't take, and you should just eat them as is. If all goes as planned, you'll have a lid on there and ready to go. Wait a few months before you use them, they do need to set for a while.

peaches6

And that, apparently- is all there is to canning peaches. A few notes about Matt's process- he had a handy little tool for getting the hot jars out of the boiling water- like this. I probably would have tried to use a fork or something stuck inside the jar to get it out, and I probably would have burned myself. I like his idea, better. As with any project, it seems to have gone very smoothly because he had all his ingredients laid out ahead of time, all his pots ready on the stove, etc. Good prep is always key, guys. I have to admit, I'm feeling ambitious. I might give this a try soon! I really like that his syrup has honey in it, it makes me feel like maybe it's a teensy bit healthier. And now I have a craving for peaches spooned over ice cream.

16 comments:

Antonio Tahhan said...

hahaha! I cracked up when I got to, "cut those bitches and put them into jars" : ) and, I agree, nothing gets me to curse more than burning my fingers with boiling water... I should invest in one of those cool jar handling things (I usually use tongs and hope that the jars don't slip away).
those peaches look outstanding!

Alexa said...

Cool post. I have been wanting to get into canning lately... this was a timely read-- puts some of my fears to rest.:-)

AdventuresInSF said...

Absolutely love your blog...and the photos are always gorgeous!!

Keep it coming...

I've posted a link to your blog on mine (www.AdventuresInSF.blogspot.com), perhaps some of my readers and fans will become fans of yours!

The Fabulous One said...

I read this, and turn to my mother as she walks past,

"I'm thinking of canning some peaches."

"But we don't eat canned peaches. Ever."

"But we should."

Look what you've done! ;P

cindy* said...

i haven't canned any fruit yet...so now i think i will. i am always dropping the f-bomb in the kitchen, especially when canning. thanks for the step-by=step!

alexinchile said...

Great tips, thanks! Could you use the same syrup for something like pears or would that be blaspheming against the canning gods?

Brighid said...

I highly recommend the "canning kit". The little magnet wand is excellent for pulling out the lids and rings, and the wide-mouth funnel comes in handy if you're pouring hot jam into the jars.

Hi!

Nicole said...

this was an awesome post!

~Madeline~ said...

I have been talking about canning for a couple of years now but I'm still too chicken to try it. Thanks for the great tips, I may just muster up some courage.

Jana said...

You forgot to wipe off the rims of the jars to get off anything that might interfere with the seal before you put the lids on! Oh noes!

stonemaven said...

The USAD recommends against turning jars over to cool...blah...blah. Otherwise a great canning recipe. I can't wait to get my hands on some really ripe peaches.

Alicia Carrier said...

stonemaven- why not turn them upside-down? matt told me that it cooled faster if more of the glass is exposed to air.

ladybake said...

mmmm... what about canned apples in a cinnamon glaze... amazing over vanilla ice cream or in oatmeal.

celina said...

This is great! Can something other than honey be substituted? My boyfriend is allergic!

Alicia Carrier said...

celina, you might want to try it using agave nectar instead of honey. it's not too hard to find and it has a lovely mild flavor.

Flannel said...

You don't want to invert the jars while cooling because of the possibility of some fluid seeping between the rim and lid and compromising the seal. If you want them to cool faster, put a towel on your cookie cooling racks and set the jars on there.