By Cindy Naas
This is the first year I have canned.
When I was growing up, late summer and early fall was considered to be canning season, and for weeks the house would smell like sweet blackberry jam, spicy apple butter and my favorite, the spicy sweet smell of my grandmother’s spiced peach recipe.
As an adult I kept intending to learn to can, and never got around to it until this summer, when my interest in buying and using locally grown produce made me decide to just do it.
So, two weeks ago I went out to a local organic farm and bought a large basket of peaches.
I stopped on the way home and bought a dozen canning jars and various tools – slotted spoons, a funnel and a set of tongs to grab jars out of boiling water.Â The next morning, I decided that I had way too many peaches so I went out and bought 2 dozen more jars, sterilized them all, and set to work.
Four hours later, my kitchen was covered in sticky syrup splashes, one of the dogs was trying to eat a peach pit, I had burned my hand- and I had 4 quarts of peaches to show for my trouble. I was so disappointed- I really had no idea how to estimate the amount of peaches I would need in order to have a pantry full of beautiful home-canned jars of fruit.
I went back and bought more and this time managed to guess just right. My total for this summer is now at 3 dozen quarts of spiced peaches, 6 pints of peach jam and about ten 4-cup bags of frozen peach slices for making a yummy cobbler in January.
Canning isn’t exactly economical at first- I laid out a fair amount of money for jars and equipment – but I expect that next summer I’ll can more and will already own the jars, so it will work out to cost less than buying canned organic peaches.
Here is the recipe for my grandma’s spiced peaches-
- 8 cups sugar
- 3 cups apple cider vinegar
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 2 tablespoons whole cloves
- 1 teaspoon allspice
- 4 sticks of dried cinnamon
- 4 more sticks, split length ways down the middle
You will need about 9 lbs. fresh peaches, and this should make roughly 6 quarts of canned spiced peaches.
Sterilize jars and lids, and set aside. Bring sugar, vinegar, water and spices to a boil and turn down to a low simmer. Simmer for about 5 minutes, and then add the peeled halved peaches. Cook peaches for about 5 minutes in the spiced syrup. Add a slice of cinnamon stick to empty jars, and then fill jars about 3/4 full with hot peaches. Ladle syrup into each jar, filling it to within 1/2 inch of the top. Seat the lid and screw on metal ring.
Using a large canning pot or canning pressure cooker, process the jars of peaches. You will need to bring the water to a boil and then carefully place the jars of peaches into the water. Keep water at a medium boil and make sure jars are covered more than halfway. Cook like this for about 25 minutes, then remove jars from water.
These peaches need to set inside their jars for a few weeks to bring out the full spicy flavour, but they are really worth waiting for!