I went through a Laura Ingalls stage a few years ago. Gardening, canning, milking, butter and cheese making—you name it, I probably tried it. I had a ton of fun experimenting!
My life is a lot busier now, and my time for these old-fashioned activities is limited. So, you better believe, if I’ve hung on to something, it is really, truly worth it.
Canning peaches? Totally worth it. No lie—a home-canned peach tastes as fresh and wonderful as the first lovely, ripe peach of the season. My friend Alla and I recently canned a big batch of peaches. We had a blast working together and produced 20 jars of deliciousness for the peachless wintertime. Just in case you feel like having an old-timey afternoon, here’s what we did:
You will need: peaches, sugar, mason jars, lids and rings, and a water bath canning kettle. (And an apron and a bunch of paper towels. This gets messy.)
Bring a big pot of water to a boil and have another big pot of ice water handy. (Tip: when processing a lot of fruit, I freeze water bottles and use those to chill my water. Saves on ice.) Rinse your peaches, then immerse them in the boiling water for 30 seconds. Dip them out with a slotted spoon and drop them in the ice water. The skins should practically slip off.
Half your peaches and remove the pit. Drop the halves into a solution of ½ gallon of water, 1 TBSP lemon juice, and 1 TBSP salt. This is to prevent the fruit from darkening in the jars.
Layer the fruit in your clean mason jars. I use quart jars, and I layer the peach halves concave side down. It’s prettier that way, and you can fit more in. Once you have your jars filled to the neck, bring a sugar syrup to a boil. I use the lightest sugar syrup in my trusty Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook. I bring one cup of sugar and four cups of water to a boil. When it’s boiling, I pour it over the peaches, leaving about a ½ inch headspace at the top of the jar. (You may have to make more than one batch of syrup, depending on how many peaches you have to process.) Wipe the rims of the jars with a damp paper towel to remove any debris.
Now it’s time to put on the lids. I simmer my lids briefly in boiling water to soften the rubber seals. (Some people say this isn’t necessary, but I usually have a 100 percent seal rate, so I still do it.) Put lids on top of jars and screw on rings.
Have your canning kettle at a boil. Immerse your jars and process them for thirty minutes (for quarts). Remove carefully, set on a folded towel or other heat-safe surface. They will seal as they cool—you’ll hear satisfying little pings. Once they are cool test the lids with your finger to make sure they are tight and not flexing. If so, they are good to be marked with a date and stored. If not, put that jar in the fridge and enjoy sooner. Sealed, they will keep optimally for a year with full color and flavor, but I have used them for up to three years in cobblers or ice creams.
Canned peaches are so pretty—you just want to sit and look at ‘em! They make fabulous gifts, too!
My friend Alla had never canned before, but not only did she buy another box of peaches to process, a few days later she presented me with this lovely jar of squash pickles that she canned all by herself! So proceed with caution, folks—this can turn out to be an addictive hobby!
Laurel Blount lives on a small farm in middle Georgia with her husband, their four children, and an assortment of very spoiled animals. She divides her time between farm chores, homeschooling, and writing. She's busy, but at least she's never bored! Whenever she's not working, you can find Laurel with a cup of tea at her elbow, a cat in her lap, and a good book in her hand. Stay in touch by signing up for her monthly newsletter at www.laurelblountbooks.com.
You can also find Laurel's latest release on Amazon - Hometown Hope.