Canning 101: Peaches

As a child, peaches were always a staple side dish at dinner. My mom would open a can of peaches, and spoon 3 or 4 slimy peach slices onto our plates. I used to hate them as a kid, and would force them down so I could leave the dinner table. As an adult, I’ve learned most things that come out of a can are not good, that is, unless you can it yourself.

Knowing that I wanted to can some peaches to last through the winter, I headed to a local farmstand to buy my peaches. Buying directly from a local farm allows me to buy a large order of produce for a lot cheaper than the grocery store. I spent most of a rainy afternoon peeling, slicing and canning peaches, and now I have a shelf in my pantry devoted to some gorgeous canned peaches. They are perfect to serve over ice cream, in a cobbler and of course eaten straight from the jar.

Peaches in a Light Syrup
Yields: 8 pints or 4 quarts

Ingredients:
8 to 12 pounds of peaches

1 batch of hot syrup:
1  1/4 cups sugar
5  1/2 cups water

Directions:
Prepare your canner, jars and lids.

Start by preparing your peaches. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and drop the peaches in the water for 30 to 60 seconds, or until the skins start to crack. Remove from the boiling water and immediately drop them into an ice water bath. This should allow to skins to slip off easily. After the peaches are peeled, cut them in half and remove the pits. If you prefer slices rather than halves, continue to slice into wedges.

Once your peaches are prepared, make your hot syrup. In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and water, and bring to a boil. When the sugar is dissolved, reduce the heat to low and keep warm until you are ready to fill your jars.

Pack your warm jars with the peaches, leaving 1/2 inch headspace from the top of the jar. Carefully ladle the hot syrup into the jars to cover the peaches, leaving a 1/2 inch headspace. Remove the air bubbles, and add more syrup if needed. Wipe the rims with a damp towel. Center the lid onto the jar, and screw the ring on.

Place the jars in the canner, cover, and bring the water to a boil. Process pint jars for 25 minutes, and quart jars for 30 minutes. Remove the canner lid, and wait 5 minutes before removing the jars. Allow the jars to cool overnight, check the seals, then store for up to a year.

Source: Ball Complete Book of Home Canning, page 150.

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