Wow. Peaches in a jar from my own kitchen.
Without a doubt, canned peaches from the store look pretty and taste good. But this year I had two reasons for trying to make them on my own.
The first reason was my texture issues, which this year reside with tree fruit. Specifically apples, peaches and nectarines. I bought peaches a couple of times this summer and aside from the very early ones, was disappointed. By the time they ripened in my fruit bowl, they were mushy or mealy. I learned quickly that I am not alone. I asked Jeanie Matarazzo about it. The cold and very wet spring, the very hot June and July, and then the additional rain this summer,have resulted in very pretty but very mushy fruit. It’s a shame, but it’s nature and there is not much we can do about that.
The second reason for trying them again: my mother. A few years ago my mother and I tried canning peaches. We peeled the peaches, made the syrup and canned them. They turned brown and didn’t taste very good either.
So I was inspired to try canning peaches again. Why? First: I had made a peach sauce to pour over lamb chops and discovered that once cooked, the peaches were delicious. This was my Ah Ha! moment. Second: To prove to myself that I could be successful with peaches.
I have learned two things since the first time I made them with my mother. One: Peaches need to be soaked in lemon juice and water before cooking to prevent browning. Two: The cooking time in the warm syrup should be relatively short–just long enough to warm the peaches through before pouring into hot jars.
My peaches worked out great! So well that my daughter, who had been totally grossed out by the “seconds” I used for this recipe, tasted them and said they were delicious. I gave a jar to a chef friend of mine and I guess curiosity got the cat, because he tried them that night. Here’s to “fresh fruit” in the winter!
10-12 pounds of white or yellow peaches. (I used about 20 lbs. but had cut away a lot of bad parts)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
5 cups water
juice from 1 lemon
4 additional cups water
- Prepare jars, canner and lids.
- Prepare a large glass bowl with lemon juice and water. This will prevent the peaches from browning. Squeeze the juice of 1/2 lemon into 4 cups of cold water. (I actually used Lemon essential oil and it worked great.)
- Peel the peaches. This can be done either by blanching them or just peeling them raw. I peeled them raw as I felt I did NOT need to add that extra step to my day.
- Slice them in quarters or eighths. It really doesn’t matter here because they don’t need to be perfect. When you are using “seconds” this means imperfect fruit. There may be bruises you need to cut out or around so having a uniform shape and size is not entirely necessary.
- Place peeled, sliced peaches in bowl with lemon water until you are ready to cook. I did not measure time here, just kept piling them in until the bowl was overflowing and then it was time to cook them in syrup.
- In a large pot (or dutch oven) place 1/2 cup sugar and 5 cups of water. You can add more sugar and a little more water if you want a sweeter syrup.See note below.
- Warm on low heat, and bring to a low simmer, but do not boil.
- With a slotted spoon, remove peaches from bowl with lemon water and place in pot on stove with sugar water mixture. Cook for about 5-7 minutes at a simmer until heated through.
- With a slotted spoon remove peaches from syrup and place in jars.
- Fill jars with the syrup to within 1/2 ” of the top.
- Wipe jars clean. Place lids and bands.
- Place in canner and process at boiling for 20 minutes for pint jars and 25 for quart jars.
- Remove jars and let cool on dishtowels.
Notes from my experience:
Peeling peaches is a pain, but it’s worth it.
I specifically went with a light syrup because if I feel like my kids get enough sugar and didn’t need more in the peaches. The syrup recipe here is VERY light. If you want your syrup sweeter, you can bump up the sugar by 1/4 cup increments and add an additional 1/2 cup of water.
I did have a little fun. I made two batches of peaches and in my first batch of syrup, I added a cinnamon stick just for fun and then removed it before adding the peaches to cook. I haven’t tasted those jars yet, so I’m not sure how well it worked, but in my humble opinion, you can’t go wrong with peaches and cinnamon.
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