Recipe and canning instructions are courtesy of Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving.
edited by Judi Kingry and Lauren Devine, published by Robert Rose Inc.
One summer, a few years ago, I did a lot of canning. Our pantry overflowed with jams, fruit butters, salsa, pickles and fruits in syrups. All during that fall and winter we reaped the rewards of my hard work and enjoyed fresh-tasting pears, peaches, Jardiniere, apricot butter, strawberry jam, cherries, and every kind of pickled vegetable I could think of.
So when I happened upon these large, lovely peaches, all I could think of was how nice they were going to taste in January and February. This is a small batch because I only bought 5 1/2 pounds and you really need about 8 or 10 pounds of peaches for a nice, large batch.
To begin canning you will need a big pot and a canning jar insert ( I bought mine as a set). The magnetic lid lifter, bubble eliminator and measuring tool, funnel, and jar lifter are conveniently sold together as a set. You will also need canning jars ( choose wide mouth- they are easier to fill), lids and rings. I used 7 pint jars, however you could use 4 quart jars instead. Also, while you are in the store buying the jars and lids, buy a box of the white, plastic screw-on lids. Months from now when you pull a jar of goodies out of the cupboard, you will save the ring and throw the metal lid away. The rings can be reused, the metal lids cannot be reused. You will then place the white lid on the jar before placing the jar in the fridge.
Canning is not difficult, but it is time-consuming, so plan accordingly. From start to finish today, not including the cooling time for the processed jars, it took me about 2 hours. That’s pretty quick as far as canning goes and that’s because this is an easy recipe. Canning is a great way to save the flavor of your garden (or the farmer’s market and grocery store) for the fall and winter. There is nothing like home-canned apricot butter on toast in January, to bring that summer feeling to a cold, snowy day. Enjoy!
1. Wash the jars, lids and screw bands in hot, soapy water. Rinse well and drain.
2. Place rack in the bottom of a boiling-water canner, then place jars on the rack. The water should cover the top of the jars. Cover the canner and bring the water to a simmer, you do not need to boil the jars yet. Keep the jars in the canner until ready to use.
3. Set the screw bands aside, they should be at room temperature so that you can easily place them on the jars. Place the flat, round lids in a small saucepan and heat to a simmer. They do not need to be boiled, but they should be kept hot (like the jars) until you are ready to use them.
4. Prepare the peaches and syrup: Fill a large bowl 3/4 full with water and about 3 Tablespoons Fruit Fresh (it helps the fruit to retain it’s pretty color). Peel, pit, and slice the peaches. Place slices in large bowl of water containing Fruit Fresh. Mix syrup (recipe follows) and bring to a boil, stir and reduce heat to simmer once the sugar has dissolved. Keep syrup warm. Place as many peach slices as possible in the warm syrup for at least 1 minute before placing the peaches in the jars.
5. Working with one jar at a time, remove a jar from the canner using the jar lifter, carefully pouring the water back into the canner. Place the jar on a folded towel (or cutting board) to protect the counter. Ladle or use tongs to place the warmed peaches in the hot jar, leaving 1/2 inch head space. Ladle in hot syrup, leaving 1/2 inch head space (head space is the distance between the top of the jar and the top of the food). Using the bubble eliminator and measuring tool, slide the tool down in the jar and move the peaches a little, two or three times to remove the air bubbles. Add more syrup if necessary.
6. Wipe the jar rim and threads with a clean, damp cloth. Using the magnetic lid lifter, lift a hot lid from the saucepan and place it on top of the prepared jar. Place the screw band on top of the lid and tighten it with your hand until resistance is met, then tighten by hand. Don’t use a tool to tighten the bands on the jars.
7. Return the jar to the canner and continue this process until all the peaches are in jars, and all the jars are in the canner (you may have to eat a few stray peach slices).
8. Make sure all the jars are covered with water by at least 1 inch. Cover the canner and bring water to a full rolling boil. Start the timer once the boil is vigorous and continuous. The water must continue to boil the entire 25 minutes for pint jars, and 30 minutes for quart jars.
9. At the end of 25 (or 30 ) minutes, turn off the heat and remove the canner lid. Allow the jars to remain in the canner for 5 minutes. Remove the jars with the jar lifter and place on towels, in a draft free spot to cool. Keep jars upright and do not touch the lids or seals because it could interfere with the sealing process. Allow the jars to sit for 24 hours.
10. After 24 hours check the lids to make sure the jars are properly sealed; Remove the screw bands, press down on the center of each lid. Sealed lids will curve downward and show no movement when pressed. You should also check to see if the lid is easily removed just by lifting the edge with your finger.
11. If the jar is properly sealed, wipe the jar with a clean, damp cloth and label the jar. Store the labeled jars in a cool, dark, pantry or cupboard.
12. If the jar is not properly sealed, you can re-process the jar in hopes of obtaining a proper seal. Or you can refrigerate the jar and use its contents within a few days.
13. Use home-canned foods within 1 year.
Syrup for Peaches ( 8-10 pounds peaches per 1 batch of syrup)
Light Syrup: 2 1/4 cups granulated sugar and 5 1/4 cups water.
Medium Syrup: 3 1/4 cups granulated sugar and 5 cups water.
Heavy Syrup: 4 1/4 cups granulated sugar and 4 1/4 cups water.