Preserving Food
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Canning Peaches

Bringing in the harvest can be one of the most gratifying tasks, but it does often require a lot of work.  The orchard is starting to produce and last week Bill picked about 60 pounds of peaches at his estimate, or about three bushels at my estimate.  In either case, we had a lot of peaches to put up.  They were small, and we learned we may have picked them too early, but the last one went into a jar this afternoon.  When we planted the peach trees, we picked two varieties: one to ripen in July and one in August.  The second picking is still another two weeks away.  They are delicious, however, and besides making peach cobbler, or peach pie, or eating them plain, or simply putting up just plain peaches in a light sugar syrup, I found two wonderful recipes to share.  They are not original and come from the many years of testing in “Ball” kitchens, or the kitchens named after the famous Ball canning jars.  I have several Ball cookbooks for canning that I accumulated over time, one from 1966, one from 1995 and the latest one from 2006, and even more from my mother-in-law, now that she went home to God, from 1935, 1949 and 1972, but if you enjoy canning, these recipes are two of the best.  Enjoy!
canning peaches
Peach Almond Conserve     (makes 10 half pints)
1 teaspoon whole cloves
1 teaspoon whole allspice
1 cinnamon stick, about 4 inches long, broken onto pieces
8 cups crushed pitted peeled peaches, treated to not discolor
      First cut and remove the pit of peach; I work in batches of 6-8 peaches,  
       depending on size
       then, plunge the peaches into boiling water for 30-60 seconds;
       then, transfer the hot peaches to cold water to loosen skins; peel;
       hold them in a treated water solution until you have 8 cups ready  (to  
       treat water, you can use “Fruit Fresh,” lemon juice or ascorbic acid,    
       roughly 1 teaspoon to one cup of water)
2 cups finely chopped oranges (unpeeled)
7 cups granulated sugar
1 cup halved maraschino cherries
½ cup slivered almonds
Prepare canner, jars and lids.  Prepare peaches.  Cut up oranges and set aside.  Cut up cherries and set aside.  Measure almonds and set aside.  Tie cloves, allspice and cinnamon into a cheesecloth bag.  In a large deep stainless steel kettle, or jelly kettle, combine oranges, peaches and spice bag.  Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly.  Reduce heat and boil gently about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until fruit is softened.  Add sugar, increase heat to medium high and return to a boil to dissolve sugar.  Boil hard, stirring frequently, until mixture thickens, about 15 minutes.  Stir in cherries and almonds; return to a boil and boil for another 5 minutes, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat.
Ladle hot conserves into hot jars leaving ¼ inch head space.  Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary by adding more or removing some conserves.  Wipe rim with a damp cloth.  Center lid on jar.  Screw band down until resistance is felt, then increase to fingertip-tight.  Place jars in canner of hot water; when all jars are in canner and covered with water, bring the water to a boil.  Process 10 minutes.  Turn off canner.  Wait 5 minutes.  Using a jar lifter, remove and place each jar on a towel on a counter that is free from drafts.  Leave undisturbed for 12-24 hours.   Check seals.  Remove screw bands, wipe jars, label and store.  
Peach Pie Filling    (makes 4 quarts – for 4 pies or 4 cobblers)
1 cinnamon stick, about 3 inches long, broken into pieces
2 teaspoons whole cloves
12 cups prepared peaches (see above for directions in preparing peaches)
2 cups finely chopped cored peeled apples, also treated to prevent discoloring (see above)
2  2/3 cups granulated sugar
1 cup golden raisins
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
½ cup lemon juice
¼ cup white wine vinegar
½ teaspoon nutmeg
Tie cinnamon pieces and whole cloves in a cheesecloth bag.  In a large, deep stainless steel kettle, or jelly kettle, combine peaches, apples, sugar, raisins, lemon zest and juice, vinegar, nutmeg and spice bag.   Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently.   This is going to make your kitchen smell heavenly!  Reduce heat, and boil gently, stirring occasionally, until mixture is thickened.  Meanwhile, prepare jars, lids and canner.  Ladle hot pie filling into each jar, leaving one inch head space.  Adjust and seal.  Place jars in canner, cover with boiling water, and process 30 minutes for quarts.  Turn off heat. Wait 5 minutes.  Remove jars and put on a draft free counter on top of a towel. Let cool 12-24 hours.  Remove screw bands, wipe down, label and store.  
Note: can be used for cobblers or pies; if mixture is not thick enough for your taste, can add 1-2 tablespoons of tapioca just before making cobbler or pie.

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