Earlier this week I got together with my fellow caners and put up about 4o lbs. of peaches. These are the same peaches I mentioned before that I got for 59 cents a pound. When canning peaches your two options are basically to either cold pack them which means you put the uncooked chopped fruit in the jar and then pour hot syrup over them, or you can heat the fruit up in the syrup itself. This method will make your peaches a lot softer. Since we want to keep the firmness of the fruit we chose the first method.
While I take great satisfaction in canning my own food, which I know will make tasty treats all winter, I also really enjoy the social aspect of canning. Truly, it's not "fun" work. By the time you are done you are sticky, your feet and knees are killing you and the kitchen is a disaster zone. However, if you have a good group of people whom you like to hang out with doing the work, then it can be lots of fun. You can't tell me Damian isn't enjoying himself.
While I think there is a lot of good information on the Internet and any reasonably intelligent person could do it, it is helpful to have a Yoda. This is ours. If nothing else, this person can serve to reassure the novice that yes the mixture is supposed to look like that.
Do not be fooled though, even with a Yoda accidents can happen. This is the first time we used the lid on our water bather. We did not however, use the rack. One might wonder what happens when the water gets hotter than normal (thanks to the lid) and the glass jars are resting on the bottom. If you haven't guessed, the glass jars might explode. Like this the one below, and you will open your caner after 20 minutes to find lots of peach slices floating on top. When you are tired and sticky this is exceptionally disheartening. I wouldn't recommend it.
Of course at moments like these, the most important thing is to keep your spirits up and not loose your temper. Especially when everyone is armed with sharp knives!
Even though it wasn't perfect, we were still successful, and we had a good time. The basics of cold packing peaches are:
1) Pit, peal and slice peaches (whatever size you want)
2) Fill jar till there is about 3/4 to 1/2 an inch of head space
3) Make a syrup to go in the jars. We did a light syrup of 1 cup of water to 3 Tbs. of sugar.
4) Pour this hot syrup into jars and run a butter knife or spatula around the inside of the jar to release bubbles. Wipe lip of jar to ensure a good seal.
5) Put lid and ring on jars (making sure its not super tight) and put in water bather for 20 minutes.
6) Remove from water bather and allow the jars to cool. If they pop within about a 1/2 hour then they've sealed, if not, put them in the fridge and eat soon.