This morning, I celebrated the warming weather with a bowl of peaches I canned last year. Yummmmm!
I'm so grateful I learned to can a few years ago. Heather had done a lesson for a Relief Society enrichment, and then the Relief Society passed around a sign-up sheet for people who wanted to learn hands-on at someone's house. I went to Christi's house and there we canned pears and peaches. I hadn't realized until then that canning fruit is pretty easy! I have done it every summer since.
Canning peaches is intimidating if you have never done it. But, like most everything else, once you actually do it, you'll realize how simple it is. Most people don't learn to can peaches because they think: It's complicated. It takes all day. It's unnecessary.
A) It's complicated.
True. You have to wash the peaches. Then, you gotta cut them so they fit in the jars. And then, to top it all off, you have to boil water for 20 minutes! It's crazy complicated.
Seriously, you could only complicate this process if you balanced a live turkey on your head while playing hacky sack. If you desire the adventure, go for it!
B) It takes all day.
True. It might only take you 2-3 hours to can about 80 peaches all by yourself, but you could easily stretch it out to an all day event if you sing the ABC song between washing each peach. You could also mow the neighbors' lawns between peach slices to prolong the canning process.
The last time I canned peaches, it took me 3 hours to do it:
1) by myself
2) taking breaks to check on and feed my baby
3) not having all my supplies out of the basement
4) wearing high heels (A peach canning peaches. Meow!)
Do this with one other friend and have your supplies out clean and ready and you can do it in a shorter amount of time. Gua-ran-teed.
Canning is a bunch of short simple steps. The step that takes me the longest is cutting up the peaches; they are so darn slippery, they keep falling into my mouth.
C) It's unnecessary.
True. Who the heck wants to save a surplus of fruit when you can just let it rot in the kitchen? Of course, food prices never rise and people never panic and buy out the grocery store shelves. And who needs to learn anything?
Canning is so simple, you might as well learn how to do it. You never know when any of your new talents will come in handy. Last fall, my then visiting teacher brought me a bag of apples. (Thanks, Sheree!) Typically, Dave and I would eat through such a supply with no problem, but this particular week, Dave was going to be out of town and I wasn't going to be able to eat all those apples before they went bad. I googled "canning apple pie filling" and then preserved those beautiful red orbs to be ready to use in pie or on pancakes. Yum! Nothing to waste.
This is A GREAT TIME to get yourself set for this year's harvest. The following is a basic list of supplies you should gather in time for the next canning season. If you wait to collect this stuff all at once, it will be freakin' expensive. After getting your supplies the first year, you will only be paying for fruit, sugar, and lids the following years.
Essential to have:
a. Canning steamer; Estimated price: $40 (not a water bath canning pot; The steamer uses less water and therefore takes 1/2 the time as a canning pot, or "water bath canner." But if all you can get is the pot, go ahead. It'll work just fine.) (I don't know why it's currently this price. Just TWO years ago, they were $20! Maybe it's all those aluminum "green" cars now out on the road.) PSST... I got one for free on freecycle.
b. Canning jars; estimated price $12 or less for a dozen wide-mouth quart jars (I prefer the wide-mouth kind as they are easier to fit fruit through; small-mouth and smaller jars are cheaper.)(You can sometimes also find these at Deseret Industries or your local thrift store for 50¢ each. Just make sure the jars have no cracks or nicks.) (Or get them for free from people cleaning out their kitchens. ) PSST... I got mine free when my mother-in-law cleaned out her house prior to moving.
c. Canning rings or "bands"; estimated price: FREE; $1-2 for a dozen when they need replacing, if ever. (These will be included in your purchase of brand new jars; you will buy more of these when your canning rings are rusty or damaged.)
d. Canning lids; estimated price: FREE (first time), $2 or less for a dozen wide-mouth lids when replacing. (These will be included in your purchase of brand new jars, but these are one-time use only so you'll have to buy more of these when reusing the jars.)
Nice to have, but not absolutely necessary:
Jar lifter to handle hot jars; $4 or less
Funnel to neatly pour syrup or drop peach slices into jars; $2
Magnet wand to lift canning lids out of hot water; $1
A luxury to have:
A peach orchard and cannery;
Price: one meelleeeon dollars....
Places to gather your supplies from:
local grocery store (Macey's in Utah is absolutely great about carrying this stuff)
Also, you must play the song "Peaches" in the background at some point of the canning process.
[Posted song: "Peaches" by Presidents of the United States of America]
UPDATE: The steam canner is not recommended for low-acidic foods (meats, vegetables) or borderline-acidic foods (tomatoes). It is acceptable to use with fruits as long as the canner directions are followed properly and adjustments are made for altitude (an extra 10 minutes of processing in my case).
Here is the latest word on steam canning from USU Extension:
and here's a helpful discussion on the matter: