We’re all about learning new stuff these days. For instance Jelly Bean is learning how to tie bows (and therefore only wears things with tie-able parts… and only ties them in the front). So when my friend Heather offered to teach me how to can peaches, I jumped on it. It helped that peaches are super cheap here right now and even though I’ve been doing my darndest, I still cannot eat an entire case before they rot.
So after a tutorial at her house, I decided to put on my big girl bloomers and try my hand at “putting up preserves.” (That’s what people call it, right?)
First step: Enlist some good helpers. I got my two eldest to help me peel and slice the peaches after blanching.
True story: Heather had already done this step before I got to her house and so she just told me to blanch the peaches and rub their skins off, like I had any clue what that meant. Turns out blanching just means dropping the food briefly in boiling water and then putting it in an ice bath. And then the peach skin really does just rub off like magic! (Or the fake velvet on my purple disco platforms! Grr.) Thank you Chef Google!
It takes a long time to wash, blanch, peel and cut a whole case of peaches. A long time. But no fear, the instructions in my canning book promised me that canning is “easy and fun!”
Here’s Son #2 and I trying to look confident and professional. Lies.
This is really what we looked like most of the time! Canning makes me violent. (P.S. Dear Charlotte, please pull back your hair when working with food. We are not rubbing the fur off the peaches just to have your mammalian castoffs end up in the jars.)
After an hour+ of all this hot-water cold-water lukewarm-water stabby business, we finally made it to the bottom of the peach box! Only to discover the stinking rotten peach that is the reason why my car smells like, well, stinking rotten peaches. Curse you, entropy!!
This is what happens to bad peaches. To the compost bin and begone!
Yep, I let my kids use sharp knives. They’re Boy Scouts. They can handle it. (P.S. In case you’re actually trying to learn something about canning from this post, you’re supposed to put the cut peaches into a bowl full of water with lemon or citric acid to keep them from browning.)
Wondering what the younger two were up to? Setting up a “store” in the living room from which to sell our jarred peaches… to their Pillow Pets. Blue dinosaurs love peaches.
At this point I realized I was missing a bunch of important stuff for the actual canning process so I left the peaches soaking in their acid bath and headed out to the store.
The younger two decided they needed to pack “the essentials” to go to the store. Yes, we really backpacked all this stuff in the store. And out of the store. And under, over and through the store. Purple Unicorn even made a potty pitstop. Unicorns have itty bitty bladders. Sigh. And my husband wonders why it takes me so long to go grocery shopping.
Worst part? The store we went to had NONE of what I needed. Why doesn’t every store carry obscure canning supplies? Don’t they know about my capricious hipster whims?! By the time I got back and was ready for Phase II (i.e. the actual canning part), my helpers had wandered off to more important projects.
Next up I shoved the peaches in the heated jars (with no help from a funnel) and poured a simple syrup over them. My original intention had been to just can them in water – no sugar added! – but according to my Big Book O’ Canning, if you’re not using a pressure canner (I don’t even know what that is but I’m sure Target doesn’t have it) you must use sugar. So I just used the bare minimum.
All that was left was to drop those suckers into the boiling water bath and let them sit for 35 minutes. No sweat! Oh, except it was 98 degrees outside and twice that inside. LOTS of sweat. What did the book say? “Fun and easy?” More like hot and sticky.
But it all ended well! All my jars sealed and I ended up with 11 quarts of bottled peaches.
And they must have been pretty tasty because by the end of today, we only had 8 left! So pretty!
Was it worth the time, money, supplies and sticky floors? I’m actually kind of on the fence. I could have bought glass jars of peaches at Costco (with no added sugar, even) for less money and time invested. But at least now I know how to do it? Skillz are important. And maybe they’re healthier? And I can say I own a water bath! I may try it again. My ultimate goal is to do spaghetti sauce…
Have you ever canned? Did you ever learn how to do something yourself that was most likely cheaper and easier to buy?And is it just me or do my peaches have waaaay too much liquid in there?!