Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Not So-Lazy Days of Summer - Our First Canning Experiences

Early July finds us very busy around here - it is harvest season for some of our produce.  The past two weekends have been spent canning peach preserves and garlic dill pickles.  This was our first time to can but the end product turned out pretty well.  We learned some lessons and will improve our products next year.

Making Peach Preserves.
Place ripe peaches in boiling water for about 1 minute and then transfer them to ice water and then remove from water.  This exercise helped us to peel the peaches easily (we also do this to remove skins from tomatoes easily).  We found a recipe for making peach preserves that was recommended by the Georgia Peach Council.

I decided on this particular recipe because it called less sugar per 4 cups of peaches than the Ball Canning Book recommended.  Basically 5 cups of sugar per 4 cups of peaches.  The Ball recipe called for 7 cups of sugar to 4 cups of peaches.  Regarding the sugar versus peaches ratio - I found an interesting article regarding the ratio of sugar to peaches.  Sugar increases the shelf life, but we are eating the preserves so fast that they will be gone in 6 months so we have no worries about needing a very long shelf life.  Here is the article for reference.

Getting our supplies together.

 We sterilized the equipment.

1/4 cup Lemon juice per 4 cups peaches is added to keep the peaches from turning brown.

For each 4 cups of peaches, the recipe we used called for 5 cups of sugar.

 1 package Sure Jell per 4 cups of peaches for thickening.

 5 cups sugar per 4 cups peaches

Adding Sure-Jell to the peaches.

Bringing the peaches and Sure-Jell to a boil and simmer.

Add Sugar and boil for an additional minute - here is another mistake we made.  We cooked the peach preserves with sugar too long and the mixture darkened (caramelized).

 The sterilized equipment is ready.

After pouring the preserves in each jar, we placed clean lids and rings on each jar until finger tight and boiled the jars for 15 minutes (make sure the jars are covered in water - at least one or two inches above the top of the jar). The link I provided above says 5 minutes but we increased the time based on other recipes we found.

See our finished project.  We made 24 pints.  The preserves are delicious.  We are already on our third pint.  However, note the dark color - as I said before, we cooked them too long and they caramelized.  However, the darkening did not affect the taste at all. 

Making Garlic Pickles

Slice cucumbers.

 We found this recipe for Garlic Dill Pickles we are going to try.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Necessary ingredients.

 Using up last year's garlic in this recipe.  We used more garlic than the recipe called for.


 Boiling the  jars.

 Adding Brine solution to the slice cucumbers.

Smashing the garlic to release the flavor in the pickles.

Adding the brine solution to the pickles - leave 1/2" head space.

After pouring the brine solution in each jar, we placed clean lids and rings on each jar until finger tight and boiled the jars (make sure jars are covered with at least an inch or two water) for 15 minutes.

See the finished garlic pickles - 11 quarts total.

My husband also pickled 3 quarts of eggs (laid by our lovely hens) in back.  However, even though the pickled eggs are canned - we will keep them in the refrigerator and plan to eat them quickly to ensure no potential problems with botulism.

The next morning, although I was very tired from standing all day canning, I woke to this beautiful sunrise in my neighborhood!

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