Sunday, September 18, 2011

Behind the Apron Tip: How To Can Peaches

Peaches are so great on many different levels. Whether you prefer peach scones, peach cobbler, bellinis, or peaches on your waffles in the morning, there is definitely a reason to can peaches! You will thank yourself in the doldrums of winter when you pop open the lid of a jar and have a bit of summer!

The local farmers are saying that we are just about at the end of peach season, so this is the perfect time to can! A bountiful crop means an inexpensive kitchen project. Check out your local farm or farmers market!  

First thing first, you need to make sure you buy the Ball Utensil Set 

This has everything you need for a successful can job: 

1. jar funnel - use to fill jars without a mess or spilling
2. jar lifter - allows you to safely lift the jars out of the hot water
3. lid lifter - lift lid out of hot water with the magnetic end. It's hard to imagine a time when canning did not include this handy tool! 
4. bubble remover/headspace tool - slide into the side of the filled jar to release air bubbles. 

****Start by blanching the peaches for 30 seconds in boiling water. When you follow up with a cold water bath, you're able to skin the peaches very easily. 

Step 1: Be Prepared - Read the entire recipe and familiarize yourself with the instructions.  Assemble equipment and ingredients.

Step 3: Heat the Jars (in dishwasher)

Step 2: Check and Clean Equipment -  Keep jars hot to prevent them from breaking when filling with hot food

Step 4: Heat the Lids and Screw bands - Keep lids and screw bands hot in a small saucepan of simmering water until ready to use.  Do NOT boil. 

Step 5: Prepare the Canner - Prepare the hot-water-bath canner by filling halfway with water; bring to a simmer and maintain simmer, covering the canner, until the jars are fully covered.  

Step 6: Prep Ingredients – Decide whether you want to cut the peaches in halves or in slices, then place the peaches in the jar, with one pit per jar. 

Step 7: Fill Jars - Fill one jar at a time: use a jar lifter to remove a hot jar from hot water, pouring out the water inside the jar. Fill it with the prepared food using a funnel, leaving the headspace recommended in the recipe.  

Step 8: Remove the Air Bubbles
Remove air bubbles that are trapped between pieces of food using the headspace tool. Wipe the rim and threads of the jar with a damp cloth to remove any residue.  Lift a lid from the hot water; center the hot lid on the jar allowing the sealing compound to come in contact with the jar rim.  Apply the screw band, and screw onto the jar just until resistance is met.

Step 9: Place the Filled Jars Into the Hot Water
Place the jars, as they are filled, in the canner until all jars are filled or the canner is full.  Check the water level in the canner: for the hot-water-bath canner, water should cover the jars by 1 or 2 inches. For the pressure canner, the water level should be 2 to 3 inches high or what is recommended in the manufacturer’s instructions.

Step 10: Process - Hot-water-bath canner: Place lid on canner.  Bring water to a full rolling boil and begin the processing time indicated in the recipe, adjusting for altitude.  When the processing time is finished, turn off the heat and remove the canner lid.  Allow the jars to stand in the canner for 5 minutes.

Step 11: Remove and Cool - Use the jar lifter to remove the jars from the canner.  Place them on a towel to prevent breakage when the hot jars come in contact with the countertop. Let them stand, undisturbed, 12 to 24 hours. Do not attempt to retighten screw bands.

Step 12: Check Seals  - Make sure all jars have sealed by testing the seal: Remove the screw bands and press the middle of the lid.  It should not pop up or spring back when you remove your finger.  Also, the lids should not lift off with your fingertips.  If unsealed, immediately reprocess or refrigerate and eat right away. 

Store the processed jars in a clean, cool, dark, dry place for up to 1 year. The ideal temperature for storing canned food is between 40 degrees F. and 70 degrees F. 
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