After several years of talking about how I’d like to start canning, I finally broke down and decided to do more doing and less talking about canning. Last year, I thought I was ready to take the plunge. I had bought more jars than I knew what to do with, as well as all the other necessary equipment, and then let it collect dust in our spare bedroom closet for another year. Finally, yesterday, I decided that today was the day, and I stuck to it. Since this was my first time ever canning anything, I decided to start small and simple. Jams seemed like a good place to go, and I recently came across a blog that had tons of different canning recipes (Food in Jars, which I talked about here). I was perusing Marisa’s recipes, when I came across the motherload! Honey Sweetened White Peach Jam…HOLY CRAP! First…I love honey. LOVE honey. Second…I love peaches. LOVE peaches. It was like a match made in heaven, and also made for me. Naturally, I decided that this would be my first leap into the adventures that come with canning.
Honey Sweetened White Peach Jam
from Food In Jars
- 2 pounds white peaches
- 1 lemon
- 8 ounces honey
First, I prepped my jars and lids. Since all my supplies were brand new, I washed the jars, lids, and rings in warm, soapy water. I then grabbed my water bath pot (which is actually my biggest stock pot I own) and put a small rack in the bottom to keep the jars elevated. I put the jars on the rack and filled up the pot with water (I also put water in the jars, to keep them from floating). I brought the water level up to the top of the jars, put the lid on it, and brought it to a simmer. While I was waiting for the jars to come to a simmer, I put the lids in a small saucepan, which I also filled with water, and brought those to a simmer as well. Both of these pots were left simmering until I was ready to use the jars and lids. The screw tops didn’t need to be kept in simmering water, so I just let those dry on a clean towel.
Then, I began with my ingredients. I started with white peaches (shocking, based on the recipe name). I found some beauties at the local produce shop, and was excited to get them home. I peeled them with your random, everyday vegetable peeler, and nearly bit into one right then and there because they smelled so good. But, I held myself back, and managed to finish peeling. After the peaches were peeled, I grabbed a lemon and peeled that as well, the chopped up the peel into pieces. The recipe calls for you to cut it into strips, but I got lazy and just chopped it up into pieces.
Once the peeling was finished up and out-of-the-way, I pitted the peaches and cut them into slices. I tossed those into a bowl and covered with the honey, letting the peach slices soak up the honey for a bit. I wasn’t really sure how long to let this go, so I basically let the fruit sit in the honey for 15 minutes before calling it “good enough” and tossing in the lemon peel pieces. After that, I stirred it all up, then put the mixture into a large skillet on my stove. I brought that up to a boil and let it reduce. Mine took a bit longer than the recipe called for, closer to 15 minutes before it was ready to be put in the jars.
One thing I am so glad I broke down and bought was a funnel for the jars. At first I thought, “eh…why would you need that, a steady hand should be fine!” Umm…no. If your inner voice is saying that, don’t listen to it. Get the funnel. That $4 will make your life SO much easier! So, I used my handy-dandy funnel and scooped the mixture into two half-pint jars. I made sure to release the bubbles around the inner edges, then wiped clean the rims on the jars, then placed on my lid. Using my hands, I screwed on the screw tops just until there was resistance. I put the jars back into the water bath (where I was simmer the jars before I filled them) and filled it with enough water to cover the jars by at least an inch. I put the lid back on, then brought it back up to a boil, then started my timer for 10 minutes. One thing I’ve read about canning is to make sure that the water continues at a rapid boil for the full-time the recipe calls for processing. If it stops boiling, you have to bring it back up to a boil and restart the timer. So, with that in mind, I kept a close eye on the water to make sure it continued to boil.
After waiting and watching for 10 full minutes, I turned off the heat and took off the lid. My canning book said to let it sit in the water for another 5 minutes to let the contents settle, then you can get it out and let it rest for 24 hours to let the seal develop. I wanted a place where the cats couldn’t get their paws on the glass jars, so into the microwave they went, with strict instructions to J not to open the door or turn on the microwave. The last thing I wanted was for all my hard work to go to waste!
I won’t lie…there were a few leftovers in the skillet when I was finished. Just to test the quality (I swear, it was only to make sure it was edible!) I waited for it to cool and took a bite. HOLY WOW! If the preserves are only a quarter as good as what I had, I can’t wait to dig in! I have big plans for these preserves…I think they’ll be a great addition to my morning oatmeal once it gets cold outside. Plus, I think they would be perfect as an appetizer for a dinner party! I’m thinking crusty french bread, a slice of brie cheese, and a dollop of the honey sweetened peach preserves. Sigh…my mouth is watering just thinking about it!
There you go, my first foray into canning! I hope you enjoyed the adventure with me, and I highly encourage you all to go to Food in Jars to see what Marisa is up to!