Sticky, Fruity, Yummy GoodnessWritten by Shantel Parks
I learned a new skill this week – how to bottle peaches. I have been wanting to learn how to can/bottle for years now, but have been a little scared off by how complicated it sounded whenever the process was described. Add in the stories of botulism poisoning from improperly processed foods and it was enough to make me leery of ever attempting it on my own.
So when my dear friend down the street invited me to help her pick the peaches from her backyard tree, with the added bonus of teaching me how to bottle them, I was game.
Enter the tarp and coolers. Now, I know that this isn’t the best way to harvest peaches if you want to avoid some bruises on the fruit, but it is by far the fastest and simplest. We laid a tarp out on the ground under the tree, my friend climbed up and shook the branches and off fell the fruit. We repeated this process several times, rotating the tarp around the base of the tree as we moved from branch to branch, until all of the ripe fruit was removed. Then we loaded the peaches into coolers and hauled them to another friend’s home where we were going to bottle them.
Since the three of us all have children, ranging in ages from 11 – 4 month old twins, we decided that the best time to do everything would be after the children were put to bed. So at 8 p.m, I headed over to learn the magic.
We blanched, we peeled, we carefully arranged, we poured, we wiped, we boiled. It was a lot of work. I learned lots of different tricks from keeping the fruit from browning and getting air out of the jars, to rules about bottling and exceptions to the rules. But the time seemed to fly by since there was constantly something to do. That night, we did a total of 28 quarts. I went to bed a little after 1 a.m, feeling tired and accomplished.
But there were still two coolers full of peaches, so we were back at it the next night. That night, I learned another trick about peeling vs. blanching and we flew through them. Again I was up until after 1 a.m., but felt so proud of all of my hard work, and the beautiful bottles of golden peaches, that I didn’t feel tired.
I don’t really know how many bottles we did in all, since we each took some to save and share, but I do know that not only did I came home with 32 quarts to enjoy, I also came home with a new skill and the confidence to try out other recipes. Which is a really good thing, because I have so many tomatoes in my garden I was beginning to worry they would go to waste! But not now – they’ll go on my shelves instead!
What is a skill you have learned recently?
Recipe taken from the Ball Book of Preserving
2 to 3 pounds peaches per quart
Raw Pack: Wash peaches; drain. Peel peaches; cut in half and pit. Treat to prevent darkening. Make a light or medium syrup; keep syrup hot. Drain peaches. Pack peaches cavity side down, layers overlapping, into hot jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Adjust two-piece caps. Process pints 25 minutes, quarts 30 minutes, in a boiling-water canner.
Hot Pack: Wash peaches; drain. Peel peaches; cut in half and pit. Treat to prevent darkening. Make a medium or heavy syrup. Drain peaches. Cook peaches one layer at a time in syrup until peaches are hot throughout. Pack hot peaches, cavity side down, into hot jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Adjust two-piece caps. Process pints 20 minutes, quarts 25 minutes, in a boiling water canner.
NOTE – to peel peaches, dip in boiling water for 30 to 60seconds. Immediately drain and place peaches in cold water. Slip off peel. Cut in half, pit and scrape cavity to remove fibrous flesh.
Shantel's love of story began in her childhood with fairy tales. As a wife of 13 years and a mother of 4, she gets a daily sampling of the many genre's of story, including (but not at all limited to) - humor, alternate history, dramatic interpretations, tall tales, tragedy, and a smattering of anecdotes based on true stories. A sometimes blogger, a frequent do-it-yourselfer, and always fond of Cadbury Mini Eggs, Shantel can be found, most days, going 5 different directions, but usually ending up in her favorite place - at home.
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