Sunday, July 15, 2012

Sliced, canned peaches


I just love summertime when sweet, delicious, juicy peaches are in season!  To make the most of the season I start with the freshest peaches I can find, which is always at my local farm or farmer's market.  Then I slice 'em and can them or make peach jam/preserves. 

Come a long, cold, winter day, it's a wonderful treat to be able to grab a jar and serve those yummy peaches over homemade vanilla ice-cream, in a peach crumble/cobbler, or just with a dollop of whipped-cream on top!  Served cold or warm, they are a blissful reminder of warm summer days!

First get your peaches!

Next boil them briefly in hot water and plunge into an ice-water bath to easily slip off skins.

They will look like this!

Now simply cut them and remove the pit, then cut into the desired size slices.  Peaches will turn brown when exposed to air, even air in a sealed, sterile jar. To keep the fruit from turning brown, when you get a bowlful, sprinkle 1/4 cup lemon juice or Fruit-Fresh (which is just a mix of citric acid and vitamin C, perfectly natural). Then stir the peaches to make sure all the surfaces have been coated.

Peaches must be packed in a solution of water and sugar or fruit juice. It's up to you which to use. Sugar is added to improve flavor, help stabilize color, and retain the shape of the fruit. It is not added as a preservative. Sugar solution is much less expensive (unless you have a supply of cheap grape juice), so I usually use a light solution to keep sugar (and the added calories) to a minimum.

 Sugar Syrup

Syrup Sugar Water Yield
Light2 cups6 cups7 cups
Medium3 cups6 cups6 1/2 cups
Heavy4 cups6 cups7 cups

NOTE from : you can ALSO use fruit juice (if you want a natural alternative) or water or artificial sweetener (Stevia, sucanat, cane juice; if you want a low calorie alternative). Click here for instruction about how to prepare these sugarless, fruit juice, or Stevia, solutions!
To prepare syrup, while heating water, add sugar slowly, stirring constantly to dissolve. Bring to a gentle boil and keep it simmering. After preparing the liquid syrup, keep it hot (but not boiling).

Pack the peaches into sanitized jars (leaving 1/2 to 1 inch space at the top) and cover with boiling sugar syrup leaving 1/2 inch head space. (if you don't cook or heat the peaches first, this is called "cold packing").

Run a rubber spatula or table knife gently between peaches and jar to release trapped air bubbles. To do this more effectively, tilt the jar slightly while running the tool between the fruit and the edge of the jar and also pressing inward against the fruit a few times.

After packing the peaches in the jar, pour the sugar solution up to 1/2 inch (1 cm) from the top. the fruit should be covered completely. If you have problems with fruit darkening (turning brown) later, then sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of Fruit Fresh or ascorbic acid into the top of the jar before you seal it.
Wipe rim and screw threads with a clean damp cloth. Add lid, screw band and tighten firmly and evenly. Do not over tighten.

Put the sealed jars in the canner and keep them cover with at least 1 inch of water and boiling. In general, if you are at sea level, boil them for at least 20 minutes (and no more than 30 min).
Here are more specific guidelines from the USDA for canning peaches in a boiling-water canner.

    Recommended process time for Peaches, halved or sliced
in a boiling-water canner.
Process Time at Altitudes of
Style of PackJar Size0 - 1,000 ft1,001 - 3,000 ft3,001 - 6,000 ftAbove 6,000 ft
20 min

Lift the jars out of the water and let them cool without touching or bumping them in a draft-free place (usually takes overnight), here they won't be bumped. You can then remove the rings if you like, but if you leave them on, at least loosen them quite a bit, so they don't rust in place due to trapped moisture.

Once the jars are cool, you can check that they are sealed verifying that the lid has been sucked down. Just press in the center, gently, with your finger. If it pops up and down (often making a popping sound), it is not sealed. If you put the jar in the refrigerator right away, you can still use it. Some people replace the lid (with a new lid) and reprocess the jar, while it’s still hot for the full time in the canner – that’s acceptable!



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