Peaches: Preserving the Love for Later

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eHow Food Blog

One of my favorite memories growing up in Kingsburg, Calif. — a town in the middle of the agriculture-laden Central Valley — is my family’s annual summer hunt for the fruit stand with the most amazing peaches. Since peach season has a limited run, I am always looking for ways to enjoy them long after summer has ended.

On a recent trip back home, in the prime of stone-fruit season, I convinced my aunt (who also happens to be a bona fide food preservation expert) to teach me how to can my summer bounty. Inspired by a now-sold out concoction by Lemon Bird Jams I’d fallen in love with last October, we created this recipe together. Now I have my own little jars of Kingsburg summer’s gold, and they’ll last me throughout the winter.

You don’t need your own Aunt Di to package up your favorite fruits to store for later. Give it a try, and leave a comment to let us know what you think!

Kingsburg Peach, Wine and Cinnamon Preserves

Beginner’s Tip No. 1: Choose peaches that are tree-ripe but not soft. Cling peaches work fine, but the slices don’t look nearly as pretty as free-stone peaches.

Ingredients

  • 5 lbs. peaches
  • 4 1/4 cups sugar (divided)
  • 4 T. lemon juice
  • 5 cinnamon sticks
  • 1/2 cup white wine (an inexpensive Pinot Grigio works well)
  • 3 T. Ball Classic Pectin or Pectin for Low or No Sugar Jam

Canning Equipment

  • 6 half pint canning jars—be sure to wash well before using.
  • Canning pot, also known as a boiling water canner (any pot will do as long as it fits the jars with one inch water on top)
  • Jar-lifter
  • Canning funnel

Beginner’s Tip No. 2: For freestone peaches, to remove skin, slice the tops and bottoms of the peaches off. Boil some water, and submerge them for about a minute. Remove them with tongs and place them in a bowl of ice water. After they’ve cooled, use a paring knife; the skin should peel right off.

Cut the peach into thin slices, and place the slices in a bowl. Mix in 4 cups of sugar and lemon juice. Let sit for 30 minutes. At this point, the sugar and fruit juices will have created a syrupy liquid and peach slices. Put this mixture into the saucepan. Tie the cinnamon sticks into cheesecloth and place those with the peaches. Simmer the mixture over very low heat for about 2 hours in a medium size Dutch oven or stainless steel pot, occasionally stirring gently. Stir in the wine and continue to simmer for an additional 5 minutes.

In a separate bowl, stir the pectin with 1/4 cup sugar. Add the pectin mixture to the peaches and return to a boil. Let this mixture reach a rolling boil (a boil that cannot be stirred down) and maintain a rolling boil for 1 minute. Remove the cinnamon sticks from the pot and use a spoon to skim the foam from the top of the cooked mixture (the foam can be eaten but is unsightly at the top of the jars.

Beginner’s Tip No. 3: Before pouring the mixture into jars, be sure to sterilize them by dipping the clean jars in boiling water using the jar lifter. Canning lids (new sealing lids must be used each time) and ring bands should be treated as directed on the package—usually they are brought to a simmer, but follow directions.

Place the canning funnel on top of the jar and carefully pour the mixture through the funnel into each jar, leaving 1/4 inch room from the top. Wipe the rims with a clean, damp paper towel. Screw on the lids with the rubber rings underneath.

Place the jars in the boiling water canner. Add additional water, if necessary, to make sure there is at least one inch of water over the top. Bring the canner to a boil. Once it starts to boil, set the timer for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and remove jars and set on dish towel on the counter to cool. Keep out of drafts and do not move for 24 hours.

Beginner’s Tip No. 4: Wait until you hear one clear “pop” sound for every jar. This could take a while, but the jar is not sealed unless you hear this clicking noise.  Jars also are slightly indented when sealed. You can check for sealing after 24 hours by taking off the ring band and holding the jar by the sealing lid. If the jar is sealed, the lid will not come off.

If the jars do not seal, they can be stored in the refrigerator for one month or in the freezer.

For more information on canning, visit:

National Center for Home Food Preservation or Ball Canning and Preserving.

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