I like to put food in jars. I know, so hipster of me. It's the newest, and the latest. Artizan, local, small batch, homemade food. I love it, but not because I'm a hipster. Well… maybe a touch hipster. I love it because it cuts down on the waste I have: my jars are reusable, and BPA-free. I know exactly what has gone into my jars as far as preservatives, sugar and chemicals. I use my grey water, (the water left in my canning pot) to water my tomatoes (once it has cooled). So all round I feel good about it. Last year was the first year I canned on my own. I few phone calls to my mother, and numerous hours spent reading on the internet, but I feel fairly proficient in the canning kitchen now. I canned well over 100lbs of peaches last year; I'm down to my last jar. Perfect timing, because we are in the thick of glorious fresh peach season. I had planned on doing more canning, but hadn't planned on doing a post. Raj tells his story:
While buying fresh local peaches, Holley said she needed to do canning in the next couple days. I said that I'd give her a hand (peeling them, cutting them, taking photos, etc – you know how much I like peach skin…). “You're going to put them on the site, right?” She turned to me and says,
“Canned peaches aren't exactly paleo.”
“Oh, do you have to add sugar or something to them?” I asked. “No, but it's not like cavemen were canning peaches in their caves… hahaha!”
When I got home I decided I should “look for evidence” about all this, and this cave painting was all I came up with. Hahaha!”
Cave man drawings. Sometimes that Raj guy cracks me up.
Now, I am no “paleo puritan” by any stretch of the imagination, but I didn't see this as “paleo”. Whole food, real food, homesteader, or even hipster: yes! The truth of the matter was writing down every step in the process is what I dreaded. I suppose cavemen would do things like dehydrate, cure or ferment. Maybe they fashioned jars from stone, or burned sand to make containers… I don't know, I wasn't there. I will not pass judgement. Paleo or not this canned peach recipe is easy, preservative- and sugar-free. Something you can feel good about eating all year long!
Canned Peaches 3 Ways:
- jars, lids and rings (Whatever your preference is, I like pints and half pints for a single-serve; Raj likes quarts for a few days worth of enjoyment)
- large pot
- cold water
- canning pot
- jar grip tongs (grab a canning kit here)
- Suitable canning music, I listened to Mariah, U2 and Def Leppard, but I'll leave that to your personal preference. Maybe some primal drumming will make it all feel more "caveman?"
- vanillia bean or extract
- maple syrup
- lemon juice
- Sort through your peaches, make sure that they are ripe (green peaches are hard to process). You can determine if they are ripe if the give way when you apply just the slightest pressure to the stem. Careful: you don't want to bruise your poor peaches; any that are starting to turn or are quite bruised, I wash and pit and put them into a freezer bag to later make jam or sauce (great for wings).
- Set one large pot (filled with water) on the stove to boil, once it comes to a rolling boil, sterilize all of your jars and lids. Turn your water down so it stays hot, but not boiling.
- Fill your canning pot with water and start to heat, you need enough water that when jars are immersed there will be about an inch of water over the top.
- Blanch your peaches: do this by dipping them into the hot water for 20-30 seconds then dropping them into a cool water bath. Once blanched the peach skin slides off easily. You can half the peaches. I like to slice them. You can put them directly into your steralized jars.
- I use a hybrid raw packing method. I put the raw fresh peaches into the jars, packing them in as tightly as possible.
- The "3 Ways": I add 1 tsp of maple syrup, vanillia bean (or ½ tsp extract), or 1 tsp of honey (optional) to each jar. You can also add 1 tsp of lemon juice here if you are concerned with discoloration.
- Bring your kettle to a boil and then add the boiling water to the jars leaving ½ inch head space to space between the liquid and the top of jar. Usually this is just to the neck or where the threading starts.
- Using your chop stick or fancy canning tool remove any air bubbles from the jar by moving the peaches around. The air can cause an issue sealing, diminish the shelf life, and cause discoloration.
- Put the hot and steralized lids on and screw the ring on. You want it finger tightened, but not too tight.
- Once your canning pot has come to a gentle boil immerse your full-of-goodness peach jars into the water. You will see tiny bubbles coming from the lids: this is a good thing. Set your timer for 20 min (longer for higher elevations, check with the national center for home food preservation for processing times)
- When your timer is complete, remove jars carefully from the boiling water and put on a thick towel (I used a towel lined peach box). Leave them alone now for 24 hours. As they cool you will hear the "pop" of cans sealing, this is the sweetest sound when canning.
- After 24 hours, any cans that haven't sealed, (the top is not concave), refrigerate and consume in the next few weeks. Or muddle some of those peaches with some bourbon and top with soda to console your canning wounds.