It's that time of year again, the time when fresh foods are abundant and reasonably inexpensive. Through a friend's church, I was able to get boxes of peaches for $15 a box, so we bought three boxes. We fresh-ate a lot of the peaches. My hands-down all time favorite fruit is peaches, so it's no surprise that half the top box was empty by the time I got around to canning them.
I wasn't sure how many jars I'd need, so I started by washing twenty quart jars. The girls were gone for a day -- busy cleaning motel rooms for a neighbor who owns a motel -- and I sorely missed their help.
I found one jar with a nicked rim, so I pulled it aside. Chipped jars won't seal.
I labeled it and put it in the pantry for storing dry items.
First task was to boil water so I could dip the peaches and slip the skins. I found that processing ten peaches at a time worked well.
Cooling the hot peaches in cool water.
As I filled each jar, I added about a tablespoon of lemon juice to slow browning.
I got into a rhythm: peaches cooking, peaches cooling, peaches being peeled, filling jars, etc.
I ended up with twenty-two quarts. Not bad.
Scraps. I thought about making some fruit vinegar, but decided not to since I still have a lot of vinegar left. This bowl of scraps went into the compost pile.
Making syrup. I prefer a light syrup, which is a 2:1 ratio of water:sugar.
Topping the jars with syrup.
I pulled out the rings I needed...
...and scalded the Tattler lids and gaskets.
Peaches can be water-bath canned (30 minutes for quarts), and my two biggest pots held twelve quarts between them.
I started cleaning up the mess while the first batch processed. The floor was sticky, so out came the mop.
While the first batch was processing, I preheated the second batch of jars in a dishpan of hot water so there wouldn't be a temperature shock of putting cool jars in boiling water. Nonetheless, about five minutes after I put the second batch of jars in the pots, I heard a BANG! When I lifted the lid, peaches were floating.
Lost a jar. It happens.
By the time second batch of jars were out and cooling...
...it was well past 10 pm and I was staggeringly tired. All-day canning sessions are tough.
The next morning I made sure to wash the very sticky jars. It's normal for the jars to vent during processing and cooling, which left them very sticky on the outside. I gave each one a good scrub.
Cleaned and ready to store.
I also scrubbed my rings, particularly necessary after a sticky project like peaches.
I'll be doing a lot of canning this fall. Peaches? They're just the beginning.