Thursday, September 25, 2008

Pickled Peaches

Randy and I love pickled peaches and everyone I tell about them comments on how unusual it sounds. So I thought I'd share the recipe.

Pickled Peaches

8 lbs. peaches, washed, peeled, halved, and pitted
6 c. sugar
4 sticks cinnamon
2 Tb. whole cloves
1" piece fresh ginger
1 quart white vinegar

Treat peaches with Fruit Fresh or similar product to prevent darkening. Dissolve sugar in vinegar in large sauce pot and heat to boiling. Boil 5 minutes. Add spices tied in a cheesecloth bag. Drop peach halves into boiling syrup and cook until they can be pierced by a fork, but not until mushy. Remove from heat and allow peaches to set in pickling liquid overnight to plump. (When liquid is cool, place in refrigerator) Bring liquid back to a boil. Pack peaches into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space. Remove air  bubbles. Adjust caps. Process 20-30 minutes in boiling water bath. Makes about 3 quarts or 6 pints.

If you are new to canning, here's the way I do it. I wash all my jars in the dishwasher, examine them for cracks, and then fill with very hot tap water until I want them later. Then I fill my canner with hot water and bring to a boil. Since this is so big, it takes a long time to boil. Then I get whatever I'm canning ready. While this is heating up, I get out my rings and my jar lids, my ladle, my canning tongs, and my canning funnel. Those should be clean also, and never reuse your jar lids. They will only seal once. 

Once all my stuff is ready (and yes, this takes up practically every burner on my stove and most of my counter space), I am all set. Grab your jar, pour out the hot water, and put your canning funnel inside. Use your ladle to fill up the jar. Have a towel ready to hold on to the jar because it will be much too hot to touch. Once your jar is full, put the lid and then ring on and tighten. Use the tongs to put your jar into the boiling water bath. Then grab the next jar. Keep going until every jar is full or until you run out of stuff to put in them. If you have one that is only half way full, either find a smaller jar or fill it up but don't bother to put it in the canner. It will not seal unless almost full. Just put a lid on the half full jar, let it cool, and go ahead and enjoy it now. 

After adding all your stuff to the boiling water bath, check to make sure all jars are covered by at least 1/2 inch of water. If not, add more water and return to a boil. Then boil or 'process' jars for at least 20 minutes. Here in Utah, you need to let things process a little longer because of the altitude. Once your time is up, remove your jars, using the canning tongs, and cover and let sit out of drafts until completely cool, sometimes overnight. Check all your jars to make sure they've sealed. You may hear them 'pop' when the seal sets. Check for seal by pushing the top of each jar. If it moves at all, it didn't seal and should be eaten or refrigerated right away. You could also freeze it and use within 3 months. If the seal is good, you can store it and use it when you're ready.

I hope this is useful! It sounds like a whole lot of work, and the first couple of times you try it, it is a lot of work. But once you've done it a few times, it gets easier and you don't have to check your directions every time. If you don't have all the supplies you need, ask around with family, neighbors, etc. Check yard sales and the clearance section at the end of summer. A resource you should absolutely have is the Ball Blue Book. It sells at Walmart and it has step by step directions for canning, complete with illustrations and recipes. It costs under $10 and it's worth every penny. Good luck and happy canning!

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