Do you love peaches? Doesn’t everybody? Today I’m going to show you how I make peach preserves. It’s easy and they are insanely delicious!
I’ve had a very busy summer, but one thing I was determined to accomplish was canning a batch of peach preserves. Fortunately, I was able to make that happen last week. This is my second year of canning and my third batch of peach preserves. They were the first thing I ever canned, and I think a good one to start with – a little time consuming in a mostly passive way, but so rewarding. I researched basic canning techniques and safety considerations – it’s important to know the reasons for the steps taken in the canning process and here is a link to a website I found to be very thorough and clear. I also watched a YouTube video a friend made. I’d tasted her peach preserves and wanted the same delicious result. My first batch last year turned out really well, even received my son’s enthusiastic approval, so I figured I’d make a larger batch. That didn’t turn out as well, since I let them overcook, so I’ve been looking forward to redeeming myself ever since.
I planted a peach tree last year but it’ll be at least another year or two before it produces any fruit to speak of, so I bought my peaches at our state Farmer’s Market. I got a peck (about 30 good-sized peaches).
They weren’t all ripe yet, so they spent a few days with the tomatoes I had ripening in the dining room.
Once the peaches are ripe, they need to be peeled and cut up. The easiest way to peel them is to blanch them first, for 30 seconds in boiling water, then move them into a bowl of ice water for another 30 seconds. The skins will just slide off if the peach is ripe enough, so don’t hurry the ripening, wait an extra day or two if you’re in doubt. Process the batch in stages if there is much variation in ripening time. Once the skin is off, slice the peach in half, remove the pit and chop into small pieces. Once they’re cut, add sugar – the quantity is really up to you, but use a good bit for best results. It also aids in the prevention of bacterial growth. I use 3/4 cup sugar for every two cups of peaches, and I think that’s conservative – you can go 1:2 and have a great result, too, in fact that’s closer to what I did last year. You’ll notice in the video that my friend uses 1:1 for hers.
Mix the sugar and peaches well, cover, and let sit overnight. Next day, slowly simmer the mixture in an uncovered saucepan until it thickens. Don’t ignore it! Stir frequently and don’t burn it – you know your stove; on mine the best setting is a notch below medium. It’ll take a few hours. There’s no pectin in this recipe, so simmering reduces it (removes water) to a good consistency for preserves. The hot mixture will be a bit more runny than the preserves will be in a jar at room temperature, so stop cooking just a little before it’s just right.
While your peaches are reducing, start a big pot of water boiling. Be sure there is sufficient water to cover the jars you’re going to use with a couple of inches to spare.
Meanwhile, once that water begins to boil, sterilize jars, lids, and bands. Follow the instructions on the video for filling the jars, leaving about 1/2 inch headspace……..
Clean the rims of the jars with a moistened clean towel to ensure a good seal and apply the lids. Screw on the rings, but don’t over-tighten. Using jar tongs, lower jars upright into boiling water and allow them to boil for 20 minutes.
Then pull out the jars and place them on a cooling rack or towel. You’ll notice, in the video, that my friend puts the jars upside down to cool. Some people do this to help with sealing. I don’t, and have never had a jar that didn’t seal – yet. Very shortly, you should hear a series of pops, one for each jar you’ve processed. This sound means the seal is secure. Allow the jars to sit undisturbed for 24 hours. Check the seals at this point. You should not be able to push the lid in with finger pressure. If you can, either apply a new lid and ring and reprocess or store the jar, as is, in the refrigerator and use within a few weeks.
Next and final step – tighten the lids and pack your pantry!
I completely understand if you take a short break for some tea and toast with peach preserves at this point. It’s even delicious by the spoonful right out of the jar!
The longer I garden, the more I learn, and care about the food I eat. The more I care about it, the more I want to preserve, and not waste, the food that I grow. I’ll tell you about more of my preserving ventures in future posts – it’s a lot of fun learning different methods of making that good food last!
“Life is better than death, I believe, if only because it is less boring, and because it has fresh peaches in it.” – Alice Walker