Monday, July 7, 2008
Free the Peaches!
I was out in the wild blue yonder last week visiting blood drive coordinators and delivering publicity materials in Lawrence County (one of my favorite areas) and was heading by to visit Liz out in Miller when I stumbled across roadside vendors selling peaches from Friestatt, MO. Of course I stopped. Animals and food in the road will almost always deter me from my original plan. I bought a big 10 lb box of peaches for $10.
I left a couple with Liz, borrowed a perserving food recipe book and bought a 10 lb bag of sugar on the way home. Needless to say I spent the evening canning peaches. I've canned tomatoes, one little half pint of beets for Grace by myself and last summer Mom helped me can blackberry jelly, but this was my first fruit canning experience.
I followed all the directions and things started out pretty smoothly until I couldn't get the dang pit out of the middle of the peach without squishing the flesh to oblivion. I struggled with several and created some stringy peachy mush until I finally gave up and started slicing the flesh of in chunks. I was worried maybe they just weren't ripe but they tasted GREAT! Only two peaches out of that entire box broke in half easily and gave me two perfect halves for my jars. All the rest were in unrecognizable chunks and pieces. I made the syrup for them, canned them up and waited for the lids to start popping. Several of them popped and sealed right away but a couple of them didn't until later in the night. Eventually I ended up with 9 pints of canned peaches. Despite the mangled method I used, they actually look very pretty.
Then next quandry was that the fruit all floated up to the top. I read the troubleshooting in my canning books and it turns out my syrup wasn't heavy enough. I used a medium syrup (like the dang book said) but guess I should have used a heavy syrup. The only difference is the sugar/water ratio.
Later in the week, Mom came up and I showed her my peaches and told her my difficulties. She asked, "Were they Freestone or Cling peaches?" Uhh, what's the difference? Turns out they are aptly named, Freestone's pit just pops right out and Clings have to be sliced because their pit stays put. Who knew? Guess me now :)