Country Living Series

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Canning peaches

A couple of weeks ago, a friend called. "A family from our church is heading to Yakima to pick up peaches," she told me. "Do you want some?"

Yakima is an agricultural city on the eastern side of the Cascade Range in mid-state Washington. Apparently this family was fetching back somewhere on the order of 700 boxes of peaches, and taking orders from anyone who wanted some.

At the astounding price of $14 per 25-lb box ($0.56/lb!) you bet I did! I ordered five boxes, 125 lbs. of peaches.

Well, five boxes in theory and five boxes in reality are two entirely different things. Quick, gotta can those peaches!


Peaches are, hands-down, my all time favorite fruit in the world. Having fresh canned peaches through the cold snowy days of winter would be a treat indeed.


I knew we had a lot of work in front of us.

I waited four or five days after getting the peaches, to let them ripen a bit. Then I got out some quart jars.


Peaches can be peeled easily if they're dipped in near-boiling water for a few minutes.


Then I dropped the hot peaches into a bowl of cool water for a couple minutes (sorry, forgot to get a photo) before draining them.


At this stage, peeling is a cinch. The skins just pull right off.


Peeled and ready to slice.


Sliced peaches and filling jars. To the right you can see the bowl where hot peaches are cooling. At this point I had peaches in all stages of production: dipping in hot water, cooling, draining, peeling, slicing, filling jars.


Younger Daughter is making syrup. I prefer to use a light syrup, which means a 2:1 ratio of water:sugar.


The sugar-water is heated until the sugar dissolves.


Here's the production line.


Targeted for the compost pile, making for happy ants and wasps!


Jars with peaches, ready for syrup.


Ladling hot syrup over the fruit.


24 quarts, ready to cap.


Naturally I used my biggest pots.


I use a rack at the bottom of each pot. Canning jars should never be in direct contact with the heat source or they're more likely to crack.


Time to pull out my buckets of Tattler gaskets, lids, and rings.



Tattler gaskets need to be heated prior to use. I boil some water, then turn off the heat and drop the gaskets and lids into the hot water for a few minutes.


Then it's time to start capping the jars.


Into the pots. When water-bath canning, water should cover the tops of the jars by about an inch. My biggest pots hold twelve quarts between them.



I covered the pots, turned up the heat, and waited for the water to come to a boil.


Rolling boil! Start timing. Peaches (in quart jars) need to be water-bathed for 30 minutes.


First 24 quarts done, about half the peaches. Enough for one day.


The next morning it was the same routine. Peaches peaches peaches.



Younger Daughter wanted to make lunch, but the only way she could reach a burner on the stove was from the back side.


While getting new jars ready to can, I washed the cooled jars to remove the sticky syrup residue. It's not unusual for jars to vent a bit of the contents upon removal, before they seal.


I also washed the rings before reusing.


After many hours of work, I finally got those five boxes empty.


Time to clean up the chaos.


Final tally by evening: 47 quarts, 8 pints, 1 pooped-out canner.


Ah, but the next morning, with the sun shining through those beautiful jars, I could stand back and admire my handiwork.


There's nothing prettier than jars of canned food, but I'm glad it's done!

42 comments:

  1. Not that you need anything ELSE to do, but have you considered making a peach jelly from the skins?

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  2. Patrice,

    The peaches looks so beautiful. Peaches are one of my favorite fruits. Where do you get all of your energy??

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  3. There is nothing quite like pulling out a quart of home canned peaches (that are put up when they are flavorful and ripe) off the storage shelf on a cold winter day. Ours are stored and ready to eat .. as well as 20 lbs of canned apricots. Yummy!

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  4. What a good feeling. I wish we could get peaches that cheap around here. They are my favorites, also.

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  5. Last year I canned 40 quarts of peaches in 1 night...needless to say we were up late...we added cinnamon to 20 quarts- it was delicious.

    I missed out this year, this makes me want to get some peaches.

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  6. If you want to avoid refined sugar you can use an inch or so of honey in the bottom of each quart jar and then after the peaches are in add hot water to fill the jar.

    Dave

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    Replies
    1. thanks for that info .. I have wondered about using honey... how about white peach juice or grape juice, has any one done peaches like that... these are beautiful and I enjoyed the whole process she posted here

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  7. Hello there. Love your website. Lot's of very useful information. I have never done any canning before. With the peaches, is this what's considered hot water canning? Since I don't see a pressure canner in any of your pictures, I'm assuming this is a hot water bath method of canning? I have a bunch of tomatoes from my garden that I want to can. Can I use this method? Thank you.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, this is water-bath canning, which can be used for high-acid foods. Tomatoes are fine to water bath **IF** you add an acidifier first. Although heirloom tomatoes are usually high in acid, many modern hybrids are not; so to be safe, add a bit of citric acid or vinegar to increase the acidity to safe levels.

      Do NOT add anything else to the tomatoes (no onions or bell peppers or anything) because those are low-acid items which must be pressure-canned.

      At the risk of tooting my own horn, I have a series of inexpensive e-booklets on canning which can be purchased through this link:

      http://selfsufficiencyseries.com/

      These booklets walk you through the basics of water-bath and pressure canning.

      - Patrice

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    2. Thank you, Patrice. Is distilled white vinegar okay to use and how much to each jar? Thank you.

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    3. White vinegar is fine. Add 1 tablespoon to pints or 2 tablespoons to quarts. Happy canning!

      - Patrice

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  8. ahh....that is truly beautiful, and I know that feeling. I was just able to enjoy sitting back and looking at 14 quarts of freshly canned homemade chili I did last week.

    A great big thanks especially are due to you Patrice because all of that was made possible due to your wonderful Canning PDF's -not one single failure out of any of my jars this time!

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  9. I love Tattler lids when I boiling bath can but seem to have problems when I pressure can. Do you do anything different with them in the pressure canner??

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    1. Tattler lids take a bit of getting used to, but I seldom have a failure now. You might try finger-tightening the rings (not TOO tight) and then NOT backing the rings down as it says in the instructions. The Tattler folks are excellent at answering questions, so feel free to email them. Here's their contact email:

      info@reusablecanninglids.com

      - Patrice

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  10. Several weeks ago, Harry &David in Medford OR had peaches for .10 per pound. We bought 468lbs. We canned for days, or at least it seemed like it. Jam, syrup, salsa, sliced peaches. We even put whole peaches in ziploc bags in the freezer, perfect for smoothies. In october they will have pears for .10 per pound.

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    Replies
    1. LOL -- we used to live in Gold Hill, just north of Medford, and I worked at Harry & David's for several years during their Christmas rush (taking phone orders). Nice company to work for. We used to get seasonal employee's discounts at their stores. I too have picked up peaches for a song. Seldom bought pears, though, since our property in Oregon had abundant pear trees. Ah memories...

      - Patrice

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  11. What a great effort Patrice. Thanks for this detailed blog with pics included.

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  12. Do you use any citric acid to prevent browning?

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  13. I noted that you did not add any thing like Fruit Fresh or ascorbic acid to your peaches. Ascorbic acid is a cheap way to help the fruit hold its color. Will the color hold or go totally brown?

    The perfect, yellow peach halves found in stores are to me a waste of money (from the overzealous use of FF) and jar space (you can get more peaches in a jar if cut into slices). But given all the work involved in canning peaches, I usually use some type of color retainer. Am I adding an unnecessary step?

    Thank you

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    Replies
    1. Ascorbic acid or other color retainers make the contents of the jars prettier, but don't alter the taste or nutrition. Sometimes I'll add a spritz of lemon juice while canning apples to retain their whiteness, but often I don't bother. By all means continue adding a color retainer if you wish. It will certainly make the contents sparkle.

      - Patrice

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  14. there is alot of personal satisfaction when eating foods that are "out of season"...like blackberries and peaches in the dead of winter and sweeet potatoes in the middle of summer. i can and water bath everything-nothing goes to waste around here..and i would have made something out of those peach peels too. i love to look at the colorful jars in our pantry/storage area...so pretty, and knowing that we will eat well for another year.

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  15. We have a bunch of pears this year. Last year the drought just killed them, they were 1/2 size. Also have a fruit picking basket with a long handle to help with the picking. I still have a bunch of metal lids to use up before the Tattlers come into play. I do wish I had your energy.

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  16. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your blog! Beautiful peaches. I can't wait to dig into your pages a little more!

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  17. When I grow up I want to be just like Patrice :-)!

    What an undertaking! This morning I was so proud of myself as I put away 11 half pints of Enola's recipe Raspberry Orange conserve that my daughter and I made yesterday. They were so pretty! Some day I will venture into the big time stuff like you do.

    I will tell you that sharing the experience with my 17 year old was awesome. While we were working together I secretly wished that she will carry the knowledge with her into the future. Its such an important skill and its at risk of being lost.

    When I was at the local mom & pop market buying my jars, the checker who was of middle-eastern descent, took great interest in the jars, canning in general, and even commented "its a good thing to learn". Yes indeed!

    -Nina

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  18. Reminds me of the time my Dad got a gift of a trashcan of fresh shrimp from a friend who owned a shrimp boat. My Mom worked for about a week, heading, peeling, de-veining, rinsing, and freezing them. When it was all done she told him
    "If you EVER..."


    Just bought the 3 canning booklets last week.

    - Charlie

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  19. Sure beats the $40 a box for peaches here. I'm having peach envy.

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  20. Congratulations! I just put up half as many peaches and it took me 2 days. We now have peach pie filling and peaches for the winter and beyond. It's a lot of work, but so worth it.

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  21. Awesome.....We deeply appreciate your sharing, (I love canned peaches) You may have motivated me to follow suit. Keep up the excellent work.

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  22. The satisfaction when canning is done is hard to explain to some one who doesn't have it in their blood. It has to be a work of love. I have family who want me to teach them but are too busy with whatever when the time comes and will say "Well can't it wait until next week?" NO!!!!

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    Replies
    1. I love your comment that it is hard to explain ... lots going on in our lives, and my mom looks at me and asks if all the work of my homemade salsa is really worth it all ... a, YES.
      And I too have Peach envy ... Michigan was hit hard by early hot weather (like March) and then it froze again ... yikes, no apples or peaches ... well, they are slim, but super EXPENSIVE.

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  23. Hi Patrice,

    I especially follow your preserving blogs with keen interest and have bought your ebooks on canning. With so many bottles of peaches sliced in one go, and only being able to water-bath so many per session, do you add the liquid and top with lids on ALL of your jars at one time? or do you only lid enough each session to go into your large saucepans?

    There are times when I have had too much hot-packed fruit to fit in a water-bath in one go. Should I lid them all together and just wait until the first cycle is complete to then do the next? or should I only lid enough for one cycle at a time?? Is it ok for lids to pop down (seal) before they've even been water-bathed because the bottle is waiting its turn in the next cycle?

    Jenny

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    Replies
    1. You have it exactly right, Jenny. If you have too many jars to process at once, then fill the jars, cap them, and let them just wait their turn in the canner.

      - Patrice

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  24. it looks delicious! pleeeeeaaaase tell me you made some peach cobbler and ice cream too (or jam).

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  25. Beautiful !!! We can most of our food we eat !!! we do not have access to such great deals like yours on peachs !!! We grow most of our own !!! God is so good and provides an awesome bounty !!! Gods blessings on you and your family !!!!

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  26. I know you are probably not on Facebook, but I wanted to let you know that the nice folks over at Tattler put up a post about this post from your blog. It was nice to see the link on Facebook. Happy canning.

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    1. Nuts. You're right, I'm not on Facebook. Thanks for letting me know, though!

      - Patrice

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  27. Patrice,

    Your energy makes me feel like a slug! I spent most of yesterday working at it and only got 25 lbs. done! That included 7 quarts and 7 pints/half pints of peach butter. That's okay, I have today and 50 more pounds of fruit to redeem myself!

    Lisa

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  28. Oh my goodness Patrice, I just went from someone who feels like she's got a pretty good handle on all this canning business (I can several hundred quarts per year) to giving myself a serious "DUH!" slap to my forehead! I only ever prepare 7 quarts of food at a time- because that is what fits in my canner pot. Why oh why aren't I canning in more than one pot at time? And I had no idea I could prepare a bunch of jars at once and let them wait their turns for the canner! I thought I had to "ladle hot syrup into hot jars" and then place *immediately* into the canner! That is not true? I can let them sit around like that for a time waiting for the canner?? Holy cow! What a time wasting ditz I've been!

    Wow am I going to have fun tomorrow trying to re-learn how I can. LOL! I have about 100lbs of fruit sitting in my kitchen awaiting canning. YAHOO!

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  29. Patrice,

    I also like a light syrup but I put a little bit of almond extract in my jar as well...very tasty...I heard somewhere that canners long ago used to can peaches with a pit thrown in because it gave off that almond flavor...but it is also toxic I have heard...forget what it is...hoping to get some peaches this year as well...I really LOVE your canning posts~
    C~

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  30. I know that this is late, but I hope you get an update when someone comments.

    How do you get the pit out without crushing the fruit? It seems like peaches just fall apart when I try to take the stone out even before I've taken the skin off!

    Is there a secret to it?

    Thanks!

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    1. I think you're using CLING peaches, in which the pits "cling" to the flesh of the fruit. I vastly prefer FREESTONE peaches, where the pits are loose in the middle.

      Try freestone peaches next time -- I think you'll find it makes a world of difference when canning. The grower or grocer or fruit stand (or wherever you get your peaches) should be able to tell you which varieties are cling and which are freestone.

      - Patrice

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