Friday, September 30, 2011

Just Can It! My "Little House on the Prairie" moments...

There has been a plethora of peaches around here!  I love peaches, and since they have been plentiful and cheap, we stopped and bought a box of them for eating and canning.

I'm not sure why I feel the need to "can".  It might be because I helped my mom and grandma with many-a-batch of applesauce and rhubarb sauce when I was growing up.  It might stem from my love of everything "Little House on the Prairie" and Laura Ingalls' scrumptious descriptions of the food that they grew, ate and preserved.  For the Ingalls family, what they preserved for the winter literally meant survival.  For us, what we preserve is an inexpensive way to add to our food storage and for every day eating.

There are instructions on how to can all over the internet.  If you have never canned before and would like to try, here's an Intro To Canning pdf file from Ball.  I've collected my canning equipment over the years and just have basic enamel canners in a large and small size.  That means I can only can acidic foods since I don't use a pressure canner.  I've been looking for one for a while, and I'm coveting my mom's find of a pressure canner at a garage sale for under $10 since they cost over $70.

The other three canning tools I use are a jar lifter, a magnet on a stick (not sure what it's really called!) for getting the lids and bands out of the hot water, and a jar funnel.  I have a plastic funnel, but found this lovely black enamel one at a thrift store!

Suggested supplies are
  • Sauce pan 
  • Measuring spoons
  • Measuring cups 
  • Cutting board
  • Kitchen knives 
  • Ladle
  • Large spoon 
  • Non-metallic spatula
  • Dish rags
  • A water bath canner
  • And of course, your jars, lids and rings.

I fill my sink with cool water and then put the peaches in and give them a quick wash.  Especially since they come straight from the farm they might be a little bit dirty.  Then they go in batches of a few at a time into the boiling water for a minute or two.  This was Natalia's job.  It's nice to have a helper.
The peaches went right from the boiling water into a bowl full of ice water to shock the skins off.
Then I grabbed the peaches suffering from shock and slip or peal the skins, remove the pit, and cut in half.  Then the halves went into another bowl with a mixture of water and FruitFresh to keep the peaches from getting too dark after canning.
We made a simple light syrup with 4-1/2 cups sugar and 10-1/2 cups water and kept it hot, packed the peaches into the jars, then ladled the syrup into them.  This part is Hot, Hot, Hot!
Then we ran the plastic handle from a spatula down the edges of the jars to work out any air bubbles.  No fancy tool needed. The rims are wiped with a clean, damp, towel and the hot lids and rings put on...

Then those beautiful jars are popped into the canner for a little bath. 

Aren't they gorgeous?

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1 comment:

starsunflower said...

Oh my goodness your canned peaches look super yummy. I haven't canned in so long!

I had a chance to sell peaches with a friend several years back and it was a really fun time. Every time I see a peach it reminds me of being in the warm sun picking ripe and juicy peaches from the trees. A friend and I took our harvest and sold them by the bushel and half bushel on the side of a country road in West Michigan. It's a really nice memory. :)

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