Can It: Peaches!

I compared peach canning – and canning in general – with child birth. It is not complicated, but it is in many ways hard. And if one remembered how it feels, it would likely never be done again.  Like many others, I don’t remember so I go back to the well year after year . Each year I get all excited about engaging in a marathon of making jams, jellies, and canned fruit in syrup — peaches being my favorite subject of canning.

One Saturday morning, I came home with 40 pounds of Colorado peaches.  I was ultra excited about canning these beauties in perfect halves in the lightest syrup to have when the short Colorado harvest season ends. By 2 a.m., as I was still filling jars and boiling them, my excitement subsided and reached a bottom low as I looked at the remaining 15 pounds of peaches. But those are now distant memories and I love the results so much that I would do it again tomorrow.

You mustn’t be as greedy as I was with quantities –  you can do this with any amount of fruit. It is labor-intensive but really easy and very rewarding. And at the end of it all, it is magic to seal up a bit of summer in a jar.Canned Peaches in Light Syrup

Prepare your peach canning parapharnelia (steamer and large pot for boiling jars for sealing) and make a light syrup. I use 2 cups organic sugar for each 7 cups water – bring to a simmer until the sugar melts completely.

Choose peaches are ripe but not overly softened. Wash them and lay them on a cloth in preparation for steaming.

Steam the peaches on batches for 15-20 seconds without overcrowding them. Remove them into an ice bath and peel the skin off (it should come off very easily; if it doesn’t, either the peaches aren’t ready or you need to add a few seconds to the steaming process).

Cut the peaches up into halves keeping the pieces as clean and intact as you can. Trim up the frayed edges and any additional pieces and save them for peach butter.

Carefully place the peach pieces into sterilized canning jars with the skin side facing outside – you can fit more peaches in this way. Pack as many pieces as you can in a jar without pushing or crushing the pieces and leave about 1/2 inch at the top.

Pour warm light syrup over the peaches to the top of the jar, leaving the room at the mouth of the jar empty.  Seal it and can it as you wish — I submerge my sealed jars with in gently boiling water with at least 3 inches of water over the top. I boil for 40 minutes, remove and allow the jars to cool with at least 2 inches of space around each jar.

Peach Butter

With all the bits and pieces that did not fit into the perfect halves I was trying to fit into my jars, I made a peach butter. I added sugar just like I did in the Apricot Jam recipe and contrary to my anti-pectin beliefs, I added pectin — these peaches were much too juicy and had zero chance of having enough natural pectin to hold together without some help.

I blended the mixture with the immersion circulator until it was smooth, simmered it until it held together nicely, then strained it through a sieve for a smoother texture. I put it all into sterilized canning jars and sealed it just as I did the canned peaches. I wasn’t quite sure of how it was going to turn out and I am not happy with the picture I took but I assure you it was spectacular and a great way to use the trimming from the canned peaches.

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