Peaches come from a jar, packed by two ladies in South Hills…

Sing along to the song, Peaches. You know you want to.

Last week, I fired up my canner for the first time this year and put up some blackberries from our Fourth of July haul. It’s that time of year to start restocking the larder and the freezer (particularly after my freezer got wiped out by the derecho on June 29th) with the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables available now.

This week, my mom and I canned peaches. I know I wrote about it on this blog before, but I love to can with my mom. I am so glad she passed the tradtion down to me. Not only is canning is 100% easier when you have an extra set of hands, but I appreciate my mom’s expertise, and it just gives me a bit of nostalgia. I have been jonesin’ for some peaches to can after I canned them for the first time a couple years ago. I love, love, love peach jam, especially cooked with a sprig of rosemary in it. It is absolutely heavenly on hot biscuits. I also canned some peach slices in light syrup for peach crisp and peach pie. Both were better than anything you could get at the grocery store.

This must’ve been a good year for peaches, because my “source,” one of my mom’s good friends’ tree was absolutely loaded.

I was especially lucky because my mom got to my house around 1:30 and got a head start on peeling and slicing this five-gallon bucket. By the time I got home from work, all the hard part was done. We just packed the slices into jars and made a light syrup to pour over them. The trick is to really pack those jars full. The peaches will shrink when they are processed, so you don’t want to end up with half full jars of peaches. Not only are you wasting jar space, but successful canning depends on a good bit of science. Having the precise ratio of air to contents, as well as a proper ph, not only aids the the preservation of the contents, but in the safety of it. So, always follow the directions for canning. When it says leave 1/4 inch head space, rest assured it’s for a reason. This is also the same reason directions always say to remove air bubbles, which I’m doing below with the tool that came in my Ball canning kit.
We got five quarts and one pint of peach slices, and I reserved the rest for jam. Oh, that peach jam I made a few years ago. Did I mention how amazing it was? I was so dissappointed with this year’s version. The jam didn’t set all the way. I think it is because I used flex batch pectin, in the canister. I like this because you don’t have to make a whole batch, you can half the batch and just measure how much pectin you need. I made a whole batch in this case, but when you buy the boxes of pectin, directions are always included, and I always follow them. No worries, I thought, I can use my Ball Blue Book Guide to Home Preserving. However, I noticed that the recipe for peach jam said to put the peaches and sugar together in a large pot and bring to a boil before adding the pectin. Every other time I’ve made jam, I’ve brought the fruit and pectin to a boil before adding the sugar. But alas, I followed the recipe, and my jam is a little runny. Don’t think that will keep me from enjoying it. It will still taste divine on hot biscuits and toast. I did add a sprig of rosemary this year will I was cooking the fruit and sugar, and I fished it out before I ladled the jam into the jars.

Now, I’ve got my peach fix to last me all year!

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