For the first time ever, in my life, I decided to try making preserves by canning them in glass jars. We had the jars left over from Stephanie’s wedding last April, she had used them as table decorations with flowers in them. I thought canning would be a lot harder than it was. I had rescued about half of my peach crop before they fell off the tree and when I was in Florida a couple weeks ago I bought a half bushel of them to bring home. I had frozen my own peaches, sliced, until I could get enough to make the preserves. It turned out to be pretty easy, so easy that I was able to make them on Sunday morning last weekend before we went to the beach.
First you have to clean your canning jars, running them through the dishwasher on the heated wash and heated dry setting to sterilize them. If they are still warm from the dishwasher you only have to keep them warm until the preserves are ready because if you put hot preserves in a cold jar they will break. Since I didn’t do that, I put the washed jars in a pot of slightly boiling water until the preserves were ready. The lids need to also be hot so they too go in a separate pan of just under boiling water, this softens the rubber gaskets on the lids so they will seal. Leave them in the pots of water until you are ready to put the preserves in the jars.
All you have to do is bring some water to just under a boil and put the fruit in for about 1-2 minutes so that when you take them out and run them under cool water, the skins peel right off. For the frozen, sliced ones, I just put the whole bunch in the water so it thawed them and made the skins easier to remove. After that you just pit them, slice them, put them in a large pan and mash them up, I used a potato masher, it worked great. The amount of sugar and pectin you need depends on the amount of mashed fruit you have. I had about 8 cups of mashed fruit. For every 1 1/3 c of fruit you need 1 2/3 c sugar or for the reduced sugar version, 1cup. I made the full strength, I decided to live a little! Hee hee. Add 1 tbs lemon juice for every 1 1/3 c fruit to the pan and mix then add 1 ½ tbs pectin per 1 1/3 c fruit gradually to the mixture and bring to a rolling boil stirring constantly. At this point add entire measure of sugar for the amount of fruit you have and return the mixture to a rolling boil for 1 minute still stirring constantly then remove from heat. If foam has formed, skim it off at this point.
Remove your jars from the water bath (this is no easy feat, I finally resorted to using the glove type pot holders on both hands to grab them after sam lifted them out of the water with tongs) and ladle your preserves into them to desired level. Once the jars are filled, remove the lids from their water bath and put them on and tighten. To preserve them, the filled, sealed jars go back into boiling water, making sure the jars are covered completely by about 2 inches of water for 5 minutes. Remove the jars and place on heat proof surface to cool. I was worried that only one of the lids popped down during this process but as they cooled the other jars “buttons” popped down indicating that they were sealed. All in all it took less than an hour and the sealed jars have a shelf life of 1 year although I seriously doubt mine will even last 6 months they are so delicious! I made a pint sized jar to be used immediately and that one didn’t have to go into the 5 minute boil bath, I just cooled it off and into the fridge it went. It was so easy, I have plans to try this with other fruits and possibly even vegetables.
Monday, while we were at work, Sam had a great idea to make turnovers with my preserves. He used my homemade baking mix to make a dough, (although you could probably use bisquick too) the recipe for home made baking mix can be found here: https://syrinxasylum.wordpress.com/2013/04/09/home-made-biscuitbaking-mix/ he rolled it out thinner than for biscuits and cut it into squares, he filled the center of each square with a big spoonful of preserves and folded them over sealing the edges with a fork. He baked them at 350 for about 15-20 minutes and surprised us with this as an Anniversary dessert. I guess I taught him well if he can think up yummy things like this on his own, he will do just fine at college cooking for himself and probably his room mates too I am so proud!