How to Can a Bushel of Peaches in 7 hours with Some Swearing, a New Pot and 29 Jars
As mentioned in last week’s peach lemonade post and in our #canning play by play on twitter, we spent most of last Tuesday turning 1 bushel of gorgeous, perfect, marvellous Red Haven Ontario peaches from BizjakFarms into 29 jars of assorted canning goodness.
I feel like this post is a little late as once I actually got a bushel of peaches into jars I was sort of done with the whole thing for a few days. There was some swearing and lessons learned but I think I’m ready to share now.
First things First, we went to the Leslieville Farmer’s Market to eat croissants and the last of our Monteforte CSA cheese curds. I then moved on to driving the poor peach guys crazy with distracting chit chat and placed an order for a bushel of freestones (lessons from Well Preserved on this one) to be picked up the following week. I think half of twitter was at the market that day.
The next week rolled around. We went back, obtained a ridiculous amount of peaches, fed some to the babies, let everybody take some photos and then got Ryan and Andrew to carry them to the car while I went & got more cheese curds.
Growing up, canning peaches was one of the few “old fashioned” canning activities my mother did. In fact she has 4 pages of scribbly notes about it which is the 1980’s equivalent to blogging. I bet there are photos too. I have fond memories of eating these and admiring them in their jars.
Our objective was to can peaches to eat all winter. It’s my seasonal depression defence strategy. Let me tell you, when you bite into a Niagara Peach in the middle of February life is good.
Really it’s simple and once we got going things moved smoothly.
Start by preparing all your jars; we did this the night before. Dallas has a good run down of safe canning practices on her post about her easy-peasy co-opertive peaches. We used 2 dozen 1 litre wide mouth Jars.
Next make up a light syrup of 1 part sugar to 2 parts water. We used the organic stuff in a carton so it has a darker colour which really looks nice with peaches. I think we used 4 cartons, something like 16 cups of sugar by the end of the day. We made a big pot on fairly low heat and kept adding to it as needed. Just keep to the ratio and you’re fine.
You want to wash your peaches really well. These were low spray peaches as organic are really hard to find especially in bulk. You want to wash off the fuzz and the pesticides. Peaches are always up there on the dirty dozen.
Then add slices of peach to suryp over low heat for 5 minutes. Prep your jars and start packing hot peaches into hot jars. Cover with syrup and leave a 1/4 inch head space.
Blanching and Peeling was a total disaster, greatly reducing the yield and quickly raising the panic level. These perfect lovely peaches were crumbling in my hands.
Our other near-disaster was not having a large enough pot. I have canned many things but never used the giant jars before; so there I was, with hot peaches in hot jars and Ryan running out to buy a bigger pot. I love my new giant pot.
All in all, we have some lovely peaches and learnt some valuable lessons; always make sure you have a big enough pot (this is a lesson is optimism perhaps?) and never-ever-no-way-no-how bother with blanching or peeling your peaches; especially when there are approximately 120 of them.
PS these were the last 4 peach halves and we were out of jars so this is 1 peach in one jar. I think they’re for lunch.