Monday, September 12, 2011

Adventures in Canning - Peachy

It shouldn't be legal to get out of bed before 6 a.m. on a weekend. But I did it and even woke Marshal up early so that I could drop him off on a Sunday with his nanny. My mom and I headed down to Onalaska (no, it's not in Alaska) to grandpa's house to can peaches.

He had 7 whole box of which was mine. They are $25 a box but are supposed to be the best peaches for canning (according to the experts...aka my mom and grandpa). I had to buy two boxes of large mouth jars which came to around $20. I only used 14 of them and grandpa bought the rest. So my out of pocket expense came to around $35.

My mom provided the sugar and the sure fresh (the stuff that keeps the peaches from browning) as well as the big pots for boiling the jars.

Peaches waiting to be boiled. These are almost not ready but we went ahead and  canned them anyway.
Today I learned how to blanch peaches - putting them in boiling water (in a sort of colander like thing) for a few minutes and then dumping them in cold water.
Right after boiling...dumped in cold water.

Boiling them makes the skin come off easily and I got into a good rhythm - even taking entire skins off without ripping them into pieces. It became my goal.
Skinned Peaches...ready to halve and put in the jars.

It's amazing how HOT the peach pits get after being boiled. Just trust me. And did you know that inside the pit is a seed that looks like an almond. Apparently it's poisonous.

When peaches are ripe they will break right in half after having their skin removed. I used a knife most of the time but towards the end I just split them right in half with my fingers.
Aren't they pretty.
Mom made the syrup, which requires a lot more sugar than I ever imagined...even the light syrup. We had every burner on high. The lids had to be boiled too.
Waiting for the Hot Bath.

Before you put the lids on you have to wipe the mouth of each jar to make sure there's absolutely nothing to prevent them from sealing correctly.
Into the Hot Bath they go.

It takes 30 minutes of BOILING...but you can't put the jars into the boiling water. So you put the jars in warm water and have them heat up to boiling and then start the timer.

Did I mention it was over 90 degrees today and grandpa's air conditioning wasn't working?

We canned 77 QUARTS!!!

That's a lot of peaches. We canned from 9 a.m. to almost 5 p.m. My fingers hurt and are dry from being in water all day long.

Is it worth it to can your own peaches? Absolutely! Although you can probably buy them cheaper at the store they do not taste nearly as good. In fact, Marshal won't eat the store bought ones.

I figure, cost wise, it costs about $2.62 a quarter...not including the cost of sugar or sure fresh. Considering the jars at the store are shrinking (when was the last time they sold a full quart?) it's really not too bad. It's just amazingly time consuming. And exhausting.

And ultimately totally worth it.

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