Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Puttin' up with Peaches

I LOVE peaches.  And I've never canned them before... how crazy is THAT?  This year I was prepared.  A pastor friend of ours just a town or two over does a fundraiser with the youth in his church.  They sell Grand Junction peaches.  O.M.goodness!  I adore Colorado peaches,  and Grand Junction is cream of the crop.  We made sure to buy two boxes of them.

The only problem, was that my kitchen was still kinda in the middle of a reno.  This made finding a time to can a little tricky... which meant that the unprotected boxes of peaches were vulnerable to poachers.  Even having been the victim of snackers, I was able to put up 14 pints of peach jam, 6 quarts of peach pie filling, and 6 quarts of packed peaches.  Not bad.  

Because I'd never done peaches before, I decided to go with the recipe that came with the SureJell powder I bought.  In hind sight, I'd go with the no sugar needed kind.   See, you HAVE to use the 5 1/2 cups of sugar PER batch (yes, 5 1/2 cups) with the regular kind or the jam won't jell... but with the no sugar kind, I can control how much sugar and it won't affect the setting of the jam.  Live and learn, I guess.  So for this batch, we get free tooth decay! ::smirk:::                                                                                                                         
Whether I made jam, filling, or just left the peaches alone, I peeled and cut all the peaches into wedges.  To peel the peaches, I put them into simmering water for a few minutes.  They have to be completely submerged for this to work.  After they had gotten hot, I spooned the peaches out of the water and took them to the sink to put them into a bowl filled with cold water.  This basically caused them to split their skins, making it very easy to just slide off the skin and throw it away.  
My blender.  Nothing fancy, but it gets
the job done.
A "rolling boil" is when you can't stir
the bubbles away.

These peaches were so perfect for canning.  They  were juicy, but not mushy, ripe but not overripe.  They were remarkably easy to cut and the pits just fell out of them.  So for the jam I took the peaches and chopped them using the blender.  The idea was to leave some chunks in the jam.  I took the four cups of peaches and one package of SureJell and heated it to a rolling boil over high heat.  I wanted so badly to double the batch, but never having done it before, I was afraid of messing the "science" up and not getting good jam.  This meant I painstakingly made batch after batch after batch of jam.   Once the jam came to a rolling boil, I added the sugar...Made my teeth hurt.

Peach jam.

I filled the pint sized jars with jam, wiped the lips clean,  then put the seals and lids on them.  Of course what I didn't mention was that I ran the jars through the dishwasher cycle to sterilize and heat them... I don't like to run the risk of a jar breaking because I put something hot into a cold jar.  This is why I always have them heated in the dishwasher.
The peach jam took 10 minutes to process in the water bath.
3/4 cup of sugar 
1/4 cup of water
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
2 TBS lemon juice
3 TBS cornstarch

I whisked all this while heating it to a boil in my large pot, making sure the cornstarch didn't lump... (For one batch I had to use flour because I ran out of cornstartch... seemed to work just fine.)
Once it was mixed I added 5 cups of peach wedges, and let that all heat up till bubbling.
I packed the peaches in quart jars with 1 inch head space.  Wiped the lips and sealed the jars.  They got a 30 minute bath.
The last 6 quarts of peaches were just heated up with some water and 1/4 c. sugar to sweeten them a little.  Once they were bubbly, I ladled them into their jars, wiped and sealed them.  They got a 15 minute bath.  

Well, I can proclaim with confidence that this year's peach pilgrimage was a success!  We have tasted the jam... and it is good!  Now... about all these tomatoes...


  1. Well pasta sauce or salsa with all of those tomatoes. Yum

  2. Hey Tammy,
    Yes! I did do some salsa earlier this summer. We have a sweet member of our church who gives me a sack of cherry tomatoes each week. Not much salsa from them, so I steam, peel and then freeze them. They should be good in chili or my Mexican soup.

  3. I AM DROOLING as I read your blog! My grandparents used to drive to Colorado just to buy peaches. CRAZY.. I know. But they are so delicious!! Happy eating!

  4. That looks soooooo good, Mrs. Pool!! Can I come back and eat some? :)


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