Friday, August 28, 2009

Preserving Food ~ Sugar-free Peach Canning Marathon 2009

I'll be perfectly honest, I don't expect anyone to be as insane as I feel right this moment and take on 120lbs of peaches for the year. Yes, we use that many. And yes, it has become a yearly ritual for me to do a lot of peaches... but wow. Last year I did 4 boxes, and this year I did 5, and just after I did all of the tomato sauce. I am not sorry, but I am CRAZY tired. I have been running on nothing but coffee and junk food for days and I feel it. In the last two days, I have spent 18 hours canning, picking up stuff for canning, or preparing to can. That doesn't include eating the junk food I have bought, or cleaning up (which I haven't done yet). BUT, if you wanted to do a box or two of peaches (which would take you an afternoon and you would still be perfectly sane at the end) this is how I do it.

First, get your stuff together. You will need:

  • "Freestone" sweet canning peaches (Ask your farmer or market guy for freestone peaches... he will know what you are talking about.)
  • Jars (for each 20 - 25lb box, you will need about 12 jars)
  • New lids
  • Rings
  • Pineapple Juice (2 46oz cans per box)
  • Honey (3 cups per box)
  • Two huge bowls (or three if you are not using your sink for the cold water bath)
  • One small garbage bowl
  • a sharp paring knife
  • A water bath canner
  • Large pot for blanching peaches
  • Large pot for syrup

Step 1: Preparing the jars and lids

Your jars should be in your dishwasher on a hot light wash. Remember the heated dry. This should also be on. The jars HAVE to be hot when you fill them or they may break during processing. (To do this outside, my friends and I had success with pouring boiling water in the clean jars and then pouring it out right before we filled them. Even just filling them half way worked out well.)

Put the lids for your jars in a small bowl or pan, and pour boiling water over them to get the seals sticky.

Step 2: Making the syrup

Hannah's amazing sugar-free peach syrup:
1 cup honey to 4 cups pineapple juice
With these measurements I figured out that one 46oz can of pineapple juice needs 1 1/2 cups of honey added to it for the right ratio. I made two cans of juice per box of peaches. Put all this in a large pan and get to a good and hot simmer... boil before adding to jars.

Step 3: Skinning and slicing the peaches

Get the large pot of water boiling and drop the peaches in it for 2 mintues. Take them out and put them in a cold water bath. Could be a large bowl, I just use my sink:

This is to help remove the skin. It comes off so easily after the hot and cold dips that you can just take it off like this:

To cut up the peaches you will use your paring knife and slice them down to the pit slowly moving around the peach. This should also work very easily with the 'freestones' and they should literally fall into the bowl as you are cutting them.

Step 4: Filling the jars

Pull the hot jars from the dishwasher and add peaches.

When you have your jar filled with peaches, add the syrup. You should add it up to about a 1/2 inch below the top of the jar. Run a knife around the outside of the jar to remove any bubbles, and if you need to, add more syrup.

After the jars are full, place the hot lid on top and put the ring on 'finger tight'.

Step 6: Processing

Place jars carefully in a waterbath canner and process covered in water that is at a rolling boil for 20 minutes.

Pull the jars out with a jar grabber and place them on a towel on your counter with some breathing room around each one for at least two hours.

Most of my jars were sticky afterward, so I washed them off once they were cool and placed them in the garage on the shelf:

Enjoy peaches on oatmeal, peach cobbler, and everything peaches all winter long.
(My kids asked if they could have a jar this morning and I flat out told them "NO". Lol... maybe I am mean, but I need to look at this sight in my pantry for a week or two before I let them dig in.)



Naomid said...

How long does it take you to make all of those peaches? Your syrup is an inspiration. I would never have thought of that. I am waiting until its a touch cooler outside to can.

Thanks for your good work with photos and description!

Val in the Rose Garden said...

Hi Naomid! It took me about 12 hours to do the 5 boxes. That is 64 quarts of peaches though. So it will last us all winter long. It feels heavy in August, but in Jan... it is completely worth it. :)


Amy Hart Schultz said...

Hi Naomid.

And I thought I was the only insane person! :) I did 60 lbs of tomatoes into spaghetti sauce in one day also a few weeks ago, it produced 34 quarts of sauce. Am preparing to do it again this week.

I love your pineapple & honey recipe, I'm going to try it today and as I am getting 4-5 boxes of peaches.

Do you store all your cans with the rings on? I just read in a self-sustain book not to do that b/c it can cause the rings to rust and become misshapen and then not seal as well. I have historically stored all my cans with the rings on, just took them off for the firs time this year, and was wondering what other people were doing.

Well, off to go pick up the peaches, hopefully mine turn out as well as your did!

I have another question -- have you ever done this with the peelings on? Everywhere I read says to peel and I am curious why since a great deal of nurtition is in the peeling.....

Love your blog with all the pictures!!