Friday, August 28, 2009

Preserving Food ~ Sugar-free Peach Canning Marathon 2009

I'll be perfectly honest, I don't expect anyone to be as insane as I feel right this moment and take on 120lbs of peaches for the year. Yes, we use that many. And yes, it has become a yearly ritual for me to do a lot of peaches... but wow. Last year I did 4 boxes, and this year I did 5, and just after I did all of the tomato sauce. I am not sorry, but I am CRAZY tired. I have been running on nothing but coffee and junk food for days and I feel it (and isn't that ironic?). In the last two days, I have spent 18 hours canning, picking up stuff for canning, or preparing to can. That doesn't include eating the junk food I have bought, or cleaning up (which I haven't done yet). BUT, if you wanted to do a box or two of peaches (which would take you an afternoon and you would still be perfectly sane at the end) this is how I do it.

First, get your stuff together. You will need:

  • "Freestone" sweet canning peaches (Ask your farmer or market guy for freestone peaches... he will know what you are talking about.)
  • Jars (for each 20 - 25lb box, you will need about 12 jars)
  • New lids
  • Rings
  • Pineapple Juice (2 46oz cans per box)
  • Honey (3 cups per box)
  • Two huge bowls (or three if you are not using your sink for the cold water bath)
  • One small garbage bowl
  • a sharp paring knife
  • A water bath canner
  • Large pot for blanching peaches
  • Large pot for syrup

Step 1: Preparing the jars and lids

Your jars should be in your dishwasher on a hot light wash. Remember the heated dry. This should also be on. The jars HAVE to be hot when you fill them or they may break during processing. (To do this outside, my friends and I had success with pouring boiling water in the clean jars and then pouring it out right before we filled them. Even just filling them half way worked out well.)

Put the lids for your jars in a small bowl or pan, and pour boiling water over them to get the seals sticky.

Step 2: Making the syrup

Hannah's amazing sugar-free peach syrup:
1 cup honey to 4 cups pineapple juice
With these measurements I figured out that one 46oz can of pineapple juice needs 1 1/2 cups of honey added to it for the right ratio. I made two cans of juice per box of peaches. Put all this in a large pan and get to a good and hot simmer... boil before adding to jars.

Step 3: Skinning and slicing the peaches

Get the large pot of water boiling and drop the peaches in it for 2 mintues. Take them out and put them in a cold water bath. Could be a large bowl, I just use my sink:

This is to help remove the skin. It comes off so easily after the hot and cold dips that you can just take it off like this:

To cut up the peaches you will use your paring knife and slice them down to the pit slowly moving around the peach. This should also work very easily with the 'freestones' and they should literally fall into the bowl as you are cutting them.

Step 4: Filling the jars

Pull the hot jars from the dishwasher and add peaches.

When you have your jar filled with peaches, add the syrup. You should add it up to about a 1/2 inch below the top of the jar. Run a knife around the outside of the jar to remove any bubbles, and if you need to, add more syrup.

After the jars are full, place the hot lid on top and put the ring on 'finger tight'.

Step 6: Processing

Place jars carefully in a waterbath canner and process covered in water that is at a rolling boil for 20 minutes.

Pull the jars out with a jar grabber and place them on a towel on your counter with some breathing room around each one for at least two hours.

Most of my jars were sticky afterward, so I washed them off once they were cool and placed them in the garage on the shelf:

Enjoy peaches on oatmeal, peach cobbler, and everything peaches all winter long.

(My kids asked if they could have a jar this morning and I flat out told them "NO". Lol... maybe I am mean, but I need to look at this sight in my pantry for a week or two before I let them dig in.)




Katie said...

That was an awesome tutorial!!! Thank you! I have some pantry envy. :)

Valerie @ Frugal Family Fun Blog said...

Holy crap, woman! You ARE insane! I got tired just reading about it!

Your garage shelf looks amazing! Wow, you have been very hard at work!!

Dina said...

that canning shelf is a thing of beauty!!!

Callista said...

i am in awe..... i hope once i get a house i can be this resourceful and productive. did you have any helpers??

Lauren said...

Gorgeous! What good work. And a great tutorial.

Sarah said...

Never thought of using pineapple juice. We just used half water half apple juice and no other sweetener. Did you can all 120 lbs? I think I got 21 qts from or 85 lbs....but we ate a lot fresh, made peach ice cream and cobbler too....This is my learning year for how much I need in season to last until next year this time....

Val in the Rose Garden said...

Sadie: I got a total of 64 quarts... but 5 broke. Which TOTALLY sucked. Two from one batch at a point... I called my friend who taught me how to can these and asked her what I could be doing wrong and she said the things that I warned above about the tempature. I didn't have another broken one all night. If you look at the canner picture, that was the end of the 4th box and it was 1am. lol! I was really crazy.

Callista: YES! I had helpers. My dd helped me peal a lot of them, my oldest ds was my photographer and I took two of the 5 boxes to a friends house and helped them can their boxes as well. We canned 6 boxes in little over 3 hours. It was rather amazing actually. My friends are awesome. My friend Heather has this triple gas burner that we had three waterbaths going at once. It was a fantastic sight. Then I came home and canned until the wee hours of the morning, went to bed, and canned again the next morning until they were gone around 6pm last night. Then I posted and considered myself done. ;)

Judy said...

What a PEACH you are for doing all that for your family and friends.

Barbara said...

A friend just sent me a link to your blog and I just had to chuckle over this post...I've also been drowning in tomatoes and peaches around here, canning and freezing and drying like crazy. Love that gorgeous shot of your full pantry.

Val in the Rose Garden said...

Nice to meet you Barbara! Yes... drowning in peaches and tomatoes... that is where I live right now.

The kids cracked open the first jar of peaches this morning and pronounced them 'good'. :)

I have more tomato sauce to make today, along with peach butter, and a couple beet cakes for the freezer. Good stuff!


Callista said...

hey val quick question.... do you use a canning rack in that big pot? i was going to be brave and try to can some applesauce but i dont have a canning rack. im afraid if i just stick them in a put with boiling water they will crack/break if its sitting on the bottom of the pot....

Val in the Rose Garden said...

Calista: I would honestly only use a big pot if you had a rack. the rack not only keeps the jars from breaking, but it keeps the stuff in the bottoms of the jars from scorching. You can use a wire trivet if you don't have a rack, but something (that won't melt) needs to be under the jars so they stay away from the direct heat for a few reasons.

Question for you... did those covers come yet? ;)

Callista said...

indeed they did :) here are some action shots lol
theyre great for when i have to chill cookie dough in the fridge. since i make giant batches, i use my big bowls with the pretty covers you sent. they match everything beautifully. thanks again!

Kristen said...

I feel pretty crazy at the moment myself! Reading this inspired me to try to can peaches. well since I have a 3 year old and a 8 week old i started it tonight after 9pm EST. They are in the canner right now..I hope they come out good! I love your blog!

Anonymous said...

Hi Val,
I just read this great tutorial. I am going to try to do this while we still have some peaches here. :) We canned peaches in just water last year and they weren't sweet enough. I saw Sadie's post about the half apple juice and half water. Have you tried that one? Do you think I'm better off trying the pineapple juice? (my goal here is to get peaches that are sweet "enough" but with the absolute least amount of sugar possible).

Val in the Rose Garden said...

I have never done the apple juice one. I do have a book though (preserving without sugar) that recomends 1/2 apple and 1/2 white grape that may be good and I might try in the future. This recipe is one that I got from my friend Hannah. She has been making these peaches for about 15 years and is known for them. I don't know that I will ever do large batches any other way. ;)



Laura said...

My mom and I just canned a couple boxes of peaches but unfortunately we had a lot of bad ones. We also just made a whole lotta apple sauce we've been collecting up apples from all the unclaimed trees around town. Also I'm jealous of your organized canning cupboard I live in a basement suite and all my canning is crammed in a little cupboard beside the sink and I've got to kind of dig to find what I'm looking for.

Anonymous said...

Hi Val, just found your blog today and I'm very impressed. Thanks for all your work at sharing everything you do!
I love canning too and usually put up 120+ quarts of fruit every summer. Jars can be stored without rings; you can reuse them throughout the season and it's easier to get the lids off when it's time to eat. I learned this in Kansas when there were problems with rings rusting. We usually put a ring on in the fridge after the jar is opened. Oh, have you ever tried Tattler lids? They are reusable canning lids (plastic with separate rubber rings)and I've had great success with them.

Anonymous said...

Val where did you get your canning book? What is the title and who is the author of you don't mind? Thanks Anngela

Val in the Rose Garden said...

Hi Anngela! This recipe is from a book but it wasn't mine. It was passed to me by my friend Hannah. So I don't know the name and author. Sorry!

OliyanaBeth said...

Looks amazing, I like your way of cooking, and I am a college student and like to cook different recipes daily and search online usually.

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