Monday, September 27, 2010

Canning Peaches

Here in Southwest Idaho, peaches just peaked. Or so I've been lead to believe. I don't really know much about these things, except that when fall starts knocking on summer's back door, people around here start canning peaches. I grew up in Alaska, we canned smoked salmon and blueberry jam and spruce tip jelly -- I know about the timing of those kind of things, but not peaches.

Putting up peaches is something that I've been wanting to do for years. So this year, when the evenings started to turn chilly (our days are still hovering in the high 80's), I got the feeling it was time. The local peaches started appearing at the grocery store, and I wondered where to get my pile of peaches for cheap. My facebook and voice-mail pleas for help or an invite to a canning party went unanswered. I decided to take the task on myself -- or with the help of my hubby.

A chance encounter led me to believe that peaches could be had at a particular orchard for $8 a box, rather than $10 at another orchard. So at least the mister had a little more direction than, "Go out to where the fruit is and find me some peaches!" When he showed up with a $10 box of peaches, I wondered if he found the right farm. I was just grateful that he brought home peaches and that he took our boys out of the house all by himself. He's making big progress on his stay at home dad days.

A bunch of reading here and here, a borrowed canning pot, and I was set!

As I was dipping my peaches in boiling water then peeling them and slicing them, and my simple syrup solution was already boiling, and I was about to have a panic attack in my own kitchen over my inadequacy as a canner, I stopped.
"This is supposed to be fun," I told myself.
"You are learning something new," I told myself.
"You don't have to be perfect the first time," I told myself.
"This is why women have friends," I told myself.

Then, I invited my husband to help me peel peaches.

My results? I have 7 quarts of peach slices, 7 quarts of peach halves, and 4 8 oz. jars of peach jam.

I'm pretty sure the jam is really a sticky mess, but I'm waiting until my store bought strawberry jam is gone to pull the new jam out of the pantry. I'm also imagining how good the jam would taste on warm home-made bread. So, if the home-made bread happens before the strawberry jam is gone, I'm sure the peach jam will make it's debut.

Looking at pictures of other people's peaches, I'm pretty sure I didn't fill my jars full enough, but lesson learned. Next year, I'll really pack them in there. Now that i think of it, it is probably why my yield was above the average yield per pound of peaches.

Up next? I think I'll put up some applesauce and apple butter.

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