Earlier this week, I got an email that I’d been waiting for. A local farm has low-spray peaches that are now on sale for $10 per peck (through yesterday, sorry local readers)! (A peck is 1/4 bushel, or around 12 lbs., in this case — and they usually go for $16/peck so this is pretty awesome.) I don’t need a ton of peaches because I frankly still have several gallon-sized bags in my freezer from last year, and about 20 quarts canned (out of 50). I didn’t peel the peaches last year before canning, which apparently I should have, because everyone is annoyed by the skins and as a result, didn’t really eat them.
Come to think of it, this wasn’t *my* problem. Most of the peaches were canned by my husband and mother-in-law because I crazily went out and bought 7 pecks the night before going into labor with Jacob. I kind of knew it would happen…and did it anyway. I guess beggars can’t be choosers.
I’m canning about 12 quarts of peaches this year, peeled, to top off my supply. The boys do love them, and can eat nearly a quart just between the two of them in a sitting. Jacob grabbed a jar out of the pantry the other day and tried to carry it over to me because he really wanted some. He turns 1 this weekend, already….
That’s just the beginning of my plan, though. Oh, there is a lot more than that. So much more. I also got an email about the organic tomatoes and that going directly through the farm is going to save me about 30% per bushel (!!!). It’s time to get canning!
My Preserving Plan
This is my third year canning, and I’m constantly adjusting what I choose to preserve. But I’m getting better at gauging what we will really eat each year. So this is what I plan to do over the next couple of months:
- 12 quarts of sliced peaches (recipe below)
- 80 – 90 quarts basic tomato sauce
- 5 – 8 quarts marinara sauce (experiment this year)
- 24 – 30 pints diced tomatoes
- 24 – 30 pints tomato soup
- 8 – 10 pints salsa (more if I find a recipe I really like)
- 30 – 40 pints apple pie filling (the kids decided apple crisp for breakfast is awesome so I could see us eating this a couple times a week)
- 20 – 3 quarts applesauce
- 70 – 80 quarts diced pears
I might actually do more apples and pears than that, if I have the time and money. I’m not sure yet. I also picked 35 lbs. of blueberries and they are all frozen right now.
You’ll notice I don’t really do jams, jellies, or other fruit preserves. We just don’t eat them. I might freeze green beans, green peppers, broccoli, and other veggies if I can get good prices on them. I will definitely do this when I can have my own large garden. I might also make apple fruit leather if I have enough apples, because the kids really like that and it is an easy on-the-go snack.
When I first looked up canned fruit recipes, I was shocked to see how much sugar is recommended in many places! A “heavy” syrup had more sugar in it than water! I could not imagine putting a cup of sugar in each jar with the fruit, or more, when I didn’t feel the fruit needed any additional sugar anyway.
More research led me to see that sugar does help preserve the color of the fruit, but it isn’t necessary for safety. Therefore…sugar wasn’t needed. I decided to find a better way.
This is the better way.
You will need about 2 – 3 lbs. of peaches per quart jar (4 – 6 medium). Plus filtered water, honey, and lemon juice.
First, place your peaches, whole, on large baking sheets and freeze them.
Run these peaches under cool water. They’ll peel themselves! And you won’t burn yourself like you might if you blanched them.
Slice them up and add them to your jars.
To this, you will add 1 tsp. of lemon juice (to preserve color). It’s safer than citric acid, which is derived from corn and may be GMO.
Now, mix up 7 c. water with 1/4 c. honey. See, this isn’t very sweet. But when it sits with the peaches, the juice actually will be delicious. My kids beg to drink it. Last year when I got lazy and ran out of honey, I didn’t even use it.
Fill each jar with this “syrup.”
Add the lid (I’m using my Tattler reusable lids) and a ring. Tighten gently, but don’t screw on as hard as it goes. If you’re using Tattler lids, then you see how to do it — seal, then white lid, then ring.
Place the jars into your canning pot, with a rack or something on the bottom to protect the jars. I use a quilted hot pad for this purpose. You can read more about my equipment in my equipment and water bath method posts.
Fill the pot up with cool water. Turn it on high, or nearly high, and wait for it to reach a rolling boil. Then set your timer for 20 minutes.
Other people say to get it to a rolling boil and then put your jars in. I say, that’s a recipe to get burned. Badly. Which has happened to me before. All that matters is that the jars get the full processing time when the pot is boiling. So, jars in first, then turn it on, then start the timer when it is boiling.
When it’s done, turn the pot off and give it a couple minutes to settle down and stop the rolling boil. Then use a jar lifter to remove your jars and set them aside. Allow them to cool, and listen to their fun little “pops” as they seal!
And you’re done. Easy! And low-sugar.
**This post has been entered in Frugal Days and Sustainable Ways, Wildcrafting Wednesday, Real Food Wednesday, Allergy-Free Wednesday.**
What are you planning to can or preserve this year?
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