Canned Out

Four quarts and eighteen pints of peaches later…

Laura is the best friend in the world. She spent the day, the whole day, helping me can a bushel of peaches and never once questioned my sanity. At least not out loud. I can’t say the same for me. What was I thinking when I decided it would be a good idea to tackle a bushel of peaches and a bushel of tomatoes in two days?!?

Our first task was to sort out the bad peaches. Unfortunately the peaches arrived on Thursday and I wasn’t able to get to them until today so there were quite a few moldy ones. Gross. Once we tossed those in the compost bucket, we set about blanching, peeling, and slicing the good ones. This is the most tedious step in the canning process. You dip the peaches in boiling water for 30-60 seconds and then plunge them into an ice bath to stop the cooking process. At this point the skins should peel off easily. The trick is to only blanch a few peaches at a time to keep the water temperature from dropping too much. Of course it makes for a long morning when you can only do a few at a time and you have 35+ pounds of peaches to peel.

Once they were all blanched and peeled, we turned our attention to the various recipes we’d bookmarked to try. Liana Krissoff’s peaches in vanilla syrup from her book Canning for a New Generation was first and resulted in ten pints, eight of which sealed. From Marisa McClellan’s Food in Jars we made oven-roasted peach butter and boozy canned peaches. The peach butter only made just over a pint so we didn’t bother canning it. Laura took half home and I have the other half. Of course we made biscuits so we could try some. We paired it with some Sassy Bee chevre from Shellbark Hollow. So good! We canned seven pints of boozy peaches. Each jar has a quarter cup of Jack Daniel’s honey bourbon in it. Pair that with some vanilla ice cream and you have a pretty amazing dessert. But maybe I should avoid putting them in oatmeal. Bourbon for breakfast may not be the best plan.

We still had plenty of peaches left after making all three recipes so we just packed them in quart jars with simple syrup and pressure canned them. We canned the pints using the boiling water method, but my canner isn’t tall enough to can quarts this way. We could have used a stock pot, but the pressure canner was already out (it doubles as a boiling water canner and was what we’d been using) and filled with hot water so why dirty another pot?

At the end of the day, only two jars didn’t seal which counts as a successful day in my book.

Tomorrow I take on the tomatoes. I think my lofty ambitions of salsa and ketchup likely won’t happen. Right now my plan is to throw them all in Mabel the Wonder Blender, skins and all, and purée them. I can can the purée and turn it into pasta sauce or tomato bisque another day.

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