Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Millions of Peaches

Sunday I saw cling peaches on sale at the grocery store for $.99 a pound, so we bought six pounds, with the plan of making peach preserves. After getting home, it occurred to me that I don't really like peach preserves, so I decided to can plain peach slices instead. By the time Monday evening rolled around and Kelly and I were ready to can, we had a little under five pounds of fresh peaches. (My kids really like peaches and had eaten at least two each throughout the day. I need to remember that my children are fruit fiends when making my purchases and calculating how much fruit I want for canning.)

Of course when I purchased all those peaches, I didn't consider that they would all need to be peeled. We blanched the peaches in boiling water for about 30 seconds, and then plunged them into an ice bath. This enabled the skins to peel off easily, but we did find that we needed to cut the peaches in half before taking the skin off, or they were too slippery to grip. (Side note: I don't know why they are called cling peaches but I imagine it's because the pit clings to the fruit and does everything in its power not to be separated from it.)

After we pitted, peeled and sliced each peach, we dropped it into a bowl of water mixed with salt and vinegar, which kept the slices from discoloring while we finished the rest.

We rinsed the peaches before loading them into five quart jars, and then we topped the jars with boiling water. (You can use simple syrup or fruit juice, but we thought water would be just fine.) Next we loaded the jars into my new canning rack, and that's when Kelly pointed out that our over the range microwave was too close to the top of the canning pot for us to lift the full rack into the pot under it. So we had to put the rack in and add the jars one at a time. Then we realized that the canning pot barely had enough height  for the one inch of water required on top of the large quart jars. As you can imagine, filling a large pot to the brim with water and then bringing it to a boil is a rather splashy undertaking. 

Here are the peaches when they first came out of the water, all hot and bubbly. Kids and I opened one of the precious jars at lunch time this afternoon, and they are delicious!

Once again this process took considerably longer than I anticipated, and the kids were long asleep before the musical pops of the lids sealing. Surely with more practice, I will get faster at this!

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