It is that time of year to harvest and preserve what you grew. There are so many people now gardening and preserving since 2019. For some, it has been a huge learning curve for both. I personally do not have a huge yard to grow all my own food so I have to be resourceful in getting the food to can. I do grow a lot of herbs, for cooking and adding herbs for family health. The benefits of growing and preserving your own food far outweigh eating out or fast food. I have been experimenting with different pots and sizes pots to grow vegetables in my yard. My biggest issue is not enough sun in a large enough place to put in beds.
I buy my vegetables and fruit at Farmers Markets when I can. I also found that Costco has a good supply of organic vegetables. I get overjoyed when friends share their harvest with me. I return the favor by giving them some of the items I have canned.
Each year it is a big deal here to get fresh peaches from the western slope. They are so good, sweet and can very well. This year I canned the peaches and made peach jam. If I get more I will make up more recipes with peaches. For me, part of the fun is searching for all kinds of recipes to can.
You will need about 18 pounds of peaches to can 7 quarts of peaches. One pound of peaches is approximately equal to 3 medium peaches.
To easily peel peaches (or tomatoes!) all you need to do is dip them in boiling water for about 30 seconds and then quickly dunk them in cold water. The peels will slide right off!
As you are slicing the peaches, you need to treat them to keep them from getting brown, as peaches will brown quickly when exposed to air. Get some citric acid or Fresh Fruit it is a powder you can get in the canning section of the store. Mix 1 tsp. of Fruit Fresh with 1 gallon of water and place the peaches in the solution until you are ready to put them in the jars. This is what takes the longest when canning, all the prep work.
You will want to wash your jars in the dishwasher and time it so they are hot when you start to fill your jars with fruit.
While your jars are in the dishwasher get your canning pot ready by filling it 2/3 full of water and heat it on medium.
I put the lids in water in a small pot on the stove, and bring the water to simmer. I use a magnetic wand to pull the lids out when I need one.
To prepare the syrup, to make 7 quarts of peaches, you want to combine 8 1/4 c. water with 3 3/4 c. sugar in a large stock pot. Heat until sugar is dissolved.
Once the sugar is dissolved, start putting your peaches in the hot jars. I use a funnel that fits perfectly into the mouth of the jar. Once you have filled the jar with peaches, add the syrup, and fill to 1/2″ headspace. I wipe the jar top to make sure there is no liquid and then put the flat lid on top of the jar and put the bands on. Screw them on tight but not really tight. If they are not on tight they can pop open in the water bath.
My canning pot will take 7-quart size jars. Once you have your jars full add them to your canning pot. Water bath (cooking in water vs a pressure cooker) your peaches for 30 minutes.
Once they are done cooking take them out of the pot, and put them on a towel (to soak any water). Try not to move them until they are completely cooled. You should hear them seal when they make a popping sound. To see if they are sealed you can look at the center of the lid. If it is inverted it is sealed. If there was no change check it. You can do this by gently pressing in the middle of the lid if it gives, it is not sealed.
You can store the peaches for 1 to 2 years, as long as the seal has not been broken.
One of my family’s favorite jams is strawberry. This year I made 24 jars so far. One of my biggest issues was learning about, How many strawberries do I need to make jam? Jams are also done in a water bath.
As with all canning sterilizing the jars is very important. I use the dishwasher to clean and sterilize as many jars as possible.
8 cups of strawberries (this is like two of those large store-bought containers)This will measure out to approximately 5 cups of hulled (taking the green stem out) and chopped strawberries. Once you have them chopped it should roughly be 5 cups.
5 cups crushed strawberries
7 cups of sugar
Sure Jell pectin
Measurements need to be exact or else it won’t set. Put the strawberries in a pot and begin cooking. Stir in 1 pkg of Sure Jell into the cooking fruit. You can add 1/2 tsp of butter to reduce foaming, if desired.
Bring the mixture to a full rolling boil stirring constantly.
Add sugar to the fruit, return to a boil from exactly 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam with a metal spoon.
Ladle the fruit mixture to 1/4″ from the top. Wipe the jar rims and threads. Then put the flat lid and bands on the jars. Place on a rack in the canning pot. Water should cover the jars by 1 to 2 inches above the jars.
Cook in the canning pot for roughly 10 minutes. If in high altitude you will need to cook for longer (20 min?).
When the jam is done cooking put them on a towel to set. They will start to pop shortly after as they begin to cool.