A few weekends ago when the husband and I took our babymoon, we stopped in Ellijay to pick up some apples. It also happened that the orchard we stopped in had peaches. They were delicious! So sweet and juicy and we bought a 1/2 bushel. I knew we eat a bunch just with cereal or yogurt or lunches. But I had a plan for the rest of them. We also bought a 1/2 bushel of apples. They were early season apples and crisp and tart. Perfect for making applesauce. I canned about 6 quarts of applesauce which the big kids will have to share with the new baby. I also froze sliced apples for cobbler, pie, bread and muffins this winter. Lastly I dried some apple slices for eating and putting in oatmeal. That pretty much took care of the apples, in fact we didn't have any left to eat! I think we'll have to go back in a couple of weeks and take the kids apple picking.
For the peaches, I wanted to can some of them straight out with a sugar syrup. I also find during the winter we (mostly me) crave fruit and I end up buying canned. I wanted a substitute for canned peaches this year and canning my own seemed easy enough, which it was.
To start off with, I peeled all the peaches. No, this does not involve a potato peeler (thank goodness). You simply put the fruit into a pot of hot boiling water for about 30 seconds and then take the fruit out with a slotted spoon and put them into ice water. After they cool off a little, you can slip the skin off with your fingers. You are left with slippery round balls of sweet goodness.
Some of these I cut into slices and added hot sugar water to create my homemade canned peaches. I then processed the jars in my pressure canner and they were done.
The rest of the peaches got smashed up with a potato masher and made into two different kinds of jam. One is a rosemary peach jam and the other is a peach lime jam. Both turned out SERIOUSLY delicious. We've had them on english muffins and pb&j, but I imagine they would both work really well on a pork tenderloin or pork chops. Here are the recipes for you to try yourself. And if canning intimidates you, I promise it's not hard and it's amazingly good. So much better than the store-bought.Peach Rosemary Jam (adapted from Martha Stewart)
Makes about 1 quart3 pounds yellow peaches, peeled
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
4 3/4 cups sugar
4 large sprigs fresh rosemary
Halve and pit peaches, then cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges. Mash with sugar and lemon juice in a large pot. Add rosemary sprigs and bring mixture to a boil over med -high heat. Cook for about 12 minutes. Skim foam from surface. Discard rosemary sprigs.
Fill 4 ounce canning jars that have just come out of the dishwasher and seal. Process in hot water bath for 10 minutes. Cool jars on towel before removing rings and storing in pantry. I label the jars right on the lids since you can't reuse the canning lids.
Note: this recipe does not use pectin, so it may be a little runnier than you are used to.
Peach Lime Jam (adapted from Sure Jell recipe)
4 c prepared fruit (about 3 lb. fully ripe peaches)
2 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp grated lime rind
1 tsp fruit fresh (optional)
1 box sure jell fruit pectin
5 1/2 c sugar
Bring water canner to a simmer. Wash jars and screw bands in dishwasher. Pour boiling water over flat lids in saucepan off the heat (I never do this step). Let stand in hot water until ready to use. Drain well before filling.
Peel and pit peaches. Finely chop fruit. Measure exactly 4 cups prepared fruit into 6- or 8-quart saucepot. Add lime juice, grated rind, and fruit protector. Stir until well blended. Stir in pectin. Bring to full rolling boil (a boil that doesn't stop bubbling when stirred) on high heat, stirring constantly.
Stir in sugar. Return to full rolling boil and boil exactly 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam with metal spoon.
Ladle immediately into prepared jars, filling to within 1/8 inch of tops. Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with 2-piece lids. Screw bands tightly. Place jars on elevated rack in canner. Lower rack into canner. (Water must cover jars by 1 to 2 inches. Add boiling water, if necessary.) Cover; bring water to gentle boil. Process 10 minutes. Remove jars and place upright on towel to cool completely. After jars cool, check seals by pressing middle of lid with finger.
PS. I love this book for all the recipes and details on how to can. Novice or expert alike will get something out of it.