Canning Craze

With summer on its last legs, I have been trying to save away the best of it by canning loads of fresh veggies. You'll have to forgive my absence, as most weekends have been spent blanching, chopping, and stewing tomatoes, pickles, and peaches. This of course, is not to say I mind spending time now in the kitchen so as to save for later, rather, I do enjoy it, but it just gets Hot, Hot, and more Hot! The only thought that helps me get through it, is knowing that come January, I will have fresh peaches and tomatoes whenever my heart desires.

This year, I tried a few new recipes, including canned pizza sauce and peach butter. The pizza sauce was incredibly time consuming, but I believe it will be totally worth it as it will save both time and money later in the year and early next. The reasoning for the lengthy recipe time was really the de-seeding and de-juicing of the tomatoes. Who knew tomatoes had so much liquid and seeds?!

Canned peaches for winter eating

While the pizza sauce was extremely tasty, what I really want to share is the recipe and method for making peach butter. I was inspired to make it when my best friend gave me a jar of it from Lancaster County (PA), and then Jack unfortunately dropped the jar and broke it before I even had a chance to try it! I decided that it looked and smelled tasty enough to give it a try, and I am very glad that I did.

The beauty of this recipe is that you can actually use peach "seconds," or those peaches that might have a small blemish or hole which would otherwise be unappetizing. I purchased a 20lb basket of peaches, and used some of it to make the fruit butter. The first step is the blanch the peaches to rid of the skin. Next, dice peaches and put into a non-reactive pot along with a variety of spices. Lastly, you will need to use a stick blender or potato masher to rid of any remaining chunks, and then process in clean cans.

Fortunately, this recipe can be scaled down if you would like, and none of it has to be canned at all. You can make a few jars to just store in your refrigerator, however, it will only last about 6 months at most.

Peach butter, while a little time consuming, is a great way to put away fresh peach flavor for a cold, snowy day. The butter certainly gives you a taste of summer on a piece of toast. I highly recommend making it, if you can score some peaches!

Peach Butter
from Ball "Complete Book of Home Preserving"

4.5 lbs peaches- peeled, pitted, and coarsely chopped
1/2 c water
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
4 c sugar

1. In a large stainless steel saucepan, combine peaches, water, lemon zest, and juice. Bring to boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring occasionally, until peaches are soft- about 20-25 minutes

2. Using stick blender, puree peaches, but do not liquefy. Measure 8 cups of peach puree.

3. In a clean saucepan, combine peach puree and sugar. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil over med-high heat, stirring frequently. Be careful not to burn or scorch. Reduce the heat, and boil gently, stirring often, until the mixture thickens and holds its shape on a spoon.

4. If canning, prepare the canner, jars, and lids. If not, put into jars and let sit out to cool. Put in refrigerator when cool. Store for up to 6 months.

5. When jars and lids are ready, ladle the hot butter into the hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch of head space. Wipe the rim, center the lid on the jar, and screw the band tight.

6. Place jars in canner, and make sure they are covered with water. Bring to a boil and process for 10 minutes. Remove the canner/pot lid and let stand for 5 minutes. Remove jars and then cool and store.

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