Friday, October 21, 2011

What Do You Do With 20 Pounds Of Peaches?

Growing up we always had a large garden and spend a good part of our summer canning. Pickles, green beans, peaches, apple pie filling, tomatoes, peach pie filling corn, jams and jellies. You name it, we canned it. I even had a special outfit for canning for when we canned peaches because peach juice stains so horribly. It was a lot of work but I look back at that time in my life with fond memories. I don't can very often, but I enjoy it. It takes a lot of time and preparation, but I love the end result. I feel like I've really accomplished something when I see all the rows of filled glass jars ready to go on my pantry shelves.

Two weeks ago I bought 24 pounds of organic peaches through a co-op. After two days we had eaten about 4 pounds, and I could tell that the peaches were ripening too quickly to leave out at room temperature anymore.

Unfortunately I don't have an extra fridge to keep them in. So I decided to can them. But I didn't want to can them the same way, by taking the skins off and putting them in a sugar syrup, white grape juice or just water. Taking the skins off creates a lot of extra work. I remembered my mom telling me that one year she didn't take the skins off and stuffed peach halves into jars (without any liquid I believe) and they ended up tasting more like apricots.

So I stuffed the peach halves into jars and put this hot syrup on them:

18 cups of water
3 cups of honey
the juice of 5 limes
4 tablespoons of pure vanilla extract

Then I processed the quart jars for 35 minutes and the pint jars for 30 minutes in a water bath canner. I don't yet know how they will taste. Hopefully they'll be really yummy. And the skins come off easily if we don't want to eat them.

Unfortunately I had one pint jar and one quart jar that the bottoms broke off in the canner.

I've never had that happen before and I can't figure out what happened. It happened in two different batches. I was more unhappy about losing that jars than the peaches. I'm almost out of canning jars now, because the rest are being used. Time to stock up!

I ended up with 23 pint jars and 3 quart jars of peaches, including the broken jars.

I'd love to get a pressure canner. Maybe someday.

*Update: 11-2-2011 - It's been 2 weeks since I canned these. I opened a jar today. They are very good. The peaches are sweet, but not too sweet and they are still firm, not squishy and fresh tasting. I'm thinking that maybe a little more vanilla would be good, but I'm very happy with the end result.


  1. I am so proud of you! That recipe sounds amazing! I had forgotten about leaving the skins on. That would make it so much faster, and of course, like you said, they can be discarded later if they aren't nice to eat. Yum. That's sad about your jars. I wish I lived next door. I could give you some of my extras. Jars seem to breed in my storage room. I am curious to know how you like this recipe! You always figure out a good way to make things taste way better. I found the following on the Presto website. Maybe something in this list will give you an idea. I've had jars break like that too and it's always a disappointment.

    Q. Why do jars break during processing?
    A. Jars break during processing for the following reasons:
    • Canner became dry during the processing period. This is caused by either a steam leakage in your canner, which means you need a new part, or by using insufficient water for the processing period.
    • Commercial jars (peanut butter, mayonnaise, etc.) were used instead of the recommended glass home canning jars.
    • Cracked or nicked jars were used.
    • Food was packed too solidly or jars were overfilled.
    • Lids were overtightened (follow manufacturer’s directions).
    • Cold jars were immersed in boiling hot water. Food and jars should be hot when placed in the canner.
    • Jars were placed directly on canner bottom. A canning rack should always be placed on the canner bottom. It is not necessary to place a rack between a layer of pint or half-pint jars. Stagger the jars by placing a top jar on two bottom jars (see picture).
    • Pressure was reduced quickly after processing. Always let pressure drop of its own accord.
    • Air was exhausted from canner at too high a temperature. Adjust heat so a steady gentle flow of steam emerges from the vent pipe.
    • Pressure had fluctuated during the processing period. This can be caused by an unsteady heat source or steam leaking from the canner.
    • Jars were placed in a cold, drafty place to cool. Cool jars on a towel or rack at room temperature.
    • The jars themselves are very often the cause of difficulty. They eventually weaken with age and repeated use.

  2. Those look so nice! I bet they will be good. I hardly ever can anything besides jams and jellies cause I don't have any storage space for them. Also I have been so busy with school and work that I just can't add anything more to my plate. I have fond memories of canning with mom. Especially the green beans. We would all go out under a tree on that blue piece of naugahide (or however you spell it) and we would snap the mountains of beans. I remember mom singing silly songs too when we would start bickering about silly things so that we would laugh instead of fight.