I rarely BUY anything for canning. Its like if I buy something to can, I am defeating the purpose. Usually if I can't get it in my garden or unless someone has a surplus and gives it to me, I just won't spend the money on an intended frugal choice. HOWEVER, peaches are another thing!
Look at these delicious Missouri peaches! Sure wish you could smell these because Mmmmmm, they smell like heaven must smell!
Folks in my part of the country are knee deep in canning season. I have several friends who were canning a BUNCH of salsa this weekend. During my trip to the grocery store, my checker saw the Surejell in my basket and commented that her mom and aunt were canning lots of salsa on Saturday; that she couldn't WAIT to get home to smell it cooking! Friday night we spent some time with friends who were planning to do a BUNCH of salsa canning on Saturday. (They ended up canning 54 pints! WHEW!)
These friends casually mentioned to me that they thought I could get peaches from a local peach farm so I added to my Saturday to-do list - a trip out to the peach farm to get some peaches.
Where the peaches cheap? Nope! Were they a frugal choice for my family? Nope! Do I care? NOPE lol!
I decided then and there that I don't do much during the summer for recreation. We took no vacations, not even single day vacations. We haven't entertained much, and if I wasn't going to take a summer vacation, I decided to splurge on good summer food and it doesn't get much better than a farm fresh, juicy peach, locally grown right in my county. They are lovely! I bought "seconds" so that helped a little with cost, but they are so worth it!
The very first canning project that I tackled as a newlywed in 1985 was making peach preserves. Jams/preserves/jellies are easy stuff. They don't require tons of fruit. If you sterilize your jars in the dishwasher, you are sitting on easy street! I ONLY use Surejell for pectin because I have tried other products with failure. The Surejell pectin only requires 4 cups of chopped peaches. We're talking only about 8 peaches so get yourself some peaches and try this. You won't regret it! (However, make sure to follow the directions exactly in the box, and which I am including here in this post. It is important to follow the directions step-by-step to get it to work right.)
Here's how I made Peach Preserves AT HOME MY WAY:
- 4 cups peaches, chopped/pitted fresh peaches
- 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 box Surejell (DO NOT USE BALL BRAND)
- 1/2 tablespoon margarine/butter - which helps w/ foaming
- 5 1/2 cups sugar (MEASURE SUGAR IN A SEPARATE BOWL.)
Instructions (do not double this recipe -make additional separate batches if doing more jam/preserves than this recipe):
GET ready 7 half-pint canning jars with NEW lids & rings (rings and jars can be reused, not lids. They need to be NEW.) Wash them with hot, soapy water and either sterilize in a pot of boiling water or wash in the dishwasher -leaving them in there until ready to fill jars. I just bring mine to a boil for a few minutes and then turn them off to sit in there while I get the preserves ready.
When the jars are almost ready or have already boiled and are sitting in the completeD dishwasher cycle or boiling water, get started with the preserves.
PEEL, pit, and chop 4 CUPS of peaches. Place them in a 6-8 quart sauce pan (allow room for the boiling to happen).
ADD the lemon juice, Surejell powder (1 box), and butter/margarine to the fruit in the pot. Stir well.
START cooking on medium. Once the fruit is hot and starting to cook, USE a potato masher to mash the now hot fruit. I don't mash all the chunks out. Just smooth it out some.
BRING to a full rolling boil (STIR CONSTANTLY!) (A full rolling boil is a boil that can't really be stirred down. )
DUMP the sugar all at once:
Stir good as it starts to heat back up!
BRING to a full rolling boil AGAIN and time for 1 minute (stirring often - even while it is boiling)!
REMOVE from heat. Place your jars and lids/rings upside down on a towel close to your stove. You will want to dry the rings/lids to avoid rusting.
I turn the jars over one at a time as I am filling to keep everything sanitized. Fill up to the bottom bands of the jar, add a lid, and a ring (tighten but not TOO much). Proceed until all the jars are full. Notice the metal canning funnel. This makes filling the jars so much easier!
The official directions tell you to water bath these filled jars for 10 minutes. Personally, I don't process jams or jellies. I turn the jars upside down for 10 minutes and then right side up to seal. I listen for the jars to seal/pop. However, the safest way to can jelly/jams is to use the 10 minute water bath. (Cooking the jars in a canner or a pot with a towel in the bottom so that the jars aren't resting on the bottom of the pot), covered with water, and boiled 10 minutes.) And I ONLY use this upside down method for jams and jellies just so you know.
We love summer peach preserves on some snowy day HOMEMADE BISCUITS! Ooh baby!