A few weeks ago I got a good deal on peaches from Clarkdale, and made peach jam for the first time. It’s not great, but it will serve its purpose, which is to distract me from the strawberry jam (I made ONLY eighteen jars, and I’m afraid I might eat it all by January).
Tom asked if I was going to can peaches in syrup again. For the past two years I’ve canned peaches and I was pretty unhappy with them. The flavor was fine, but the texture was awful. The fruit may have been overripe, but for whatever reason, the peaches were stringy and fell apart. I swore I would swear off peach canning forever, but that made Tom sad (he likes to eat them on vanilla ice cream with homemade granola), so I decided to try again.
The canning bosses say “raw packs make poor quality peaches,” so I always chose the “hot pack” method, in which you put sliced peaches in boiling syrup, then cook the peaches for a bit before canning them in a hot water bath.
When I was a kid my mom canned peaches, and they were firm and held their shape. I suspected that the bosses were lying, and that my peaches fell apart because I was canning fruit that had already been cooked! After talking with my mom (who couldn’t remember exactly, but thought she probably used the raw-pack method) I decided to test my theory, and guess what? I was right. These are the peaches of my childhood!
Canning peaches isn’t hard, except for one thing: it’s really hard to peel peaches when the fruit isn’t yet totally ripe. The super extra annoying thing is when you buy a big pile of peaches and go to can them, and you find that they’re at different stages of ripeness. You can’t just hope for the best with the underripe ones…the skin will not come off, so you have to set them aside and plan to can another batch tomorrow.
Most of my peaches came from Apex Orchards, bought at the co-op when they were on sale. I used light syrup (I didn’t really measure but it was something like 1 part sugar, 5 parts water) and canned them in really small batches (a few jars at a time). Canned peaches are good in yogurt with granola, on ice cream, and on biscuits with whipped cream. I should make some more. Yum!