Canning has become quite popular in recent years and for good reason. Not only is it a desirable trait to be "green", but to be sustainable as well. Besides, who doesn't love going into their pantry in the dead of winter only to pull off their shelves a nice fruit sauce they had canned at the peak of the fruit's freshness or a veggie that would be the perfect accompaniment to that pot roast in the oven on a cold winter's night.
I didn't grow up canning because living in Arizona, there never seemed to be season's. So who cares if other parts of the country has tomatoes now? Besides, they always seemed to be around any time of the year when I was growing up.
Canning came to me a couple of years ago when I started my membership in our CSA. Since it was just Rob and I, my kitchen was bombarded with fresh fruits and vegetables galore. I am not one to waste anything and if I had to throw something out because I couldn't get around to cooking it, guilt would overcome me. So, I invested in a pressure cooker, canning tools and a bunch of mason jars and I have never looked back.
While many feel that canning is more effort than it is worth, I say it is just a few hours to have a fully stocked pantry that you stocked yourself. What better way to feed you and your family than with food that you may have grown yourself, bought at the farmer's market or your CSA with?
Since I had a bunch of peaches leftover from our picking experience, I decided to make peach butter (as well as the pie and the Bourbon Peach Barbecue Sauce). I find that fruit seems to be the easiest to can due to the fact that the high acidity in the fruit helps inhibit the growth of bacteria. Thus you only have to use a hot water bath and not a pressure canner to process your jars. This makes it quite easy and also nerve free for those of us who are worried about pressure cooker's in general.
Canning Tips and Canning Peach Butter
Adapted from Ball Blue Book: Guide to Preserving
A must have for any new comer to canning! This book has been around for over 100 years and for good reason. It is a classic!
Yield: About 4 pints
4 to 4.5 pounds peaches (about 18 medium)
4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
To prepare pulp: Wash peaches and mark an X on the bottom of each peach. Blanch in hot water for about 10 seconds. Put peaches in cold water.
Combine the peaches and 1/2 cup water in a large sauce pot. Simmer until peaches are soft.
Puree using a food processor or a food mill, being careful not to liquefy. Measure 2 quarts peach pulp.
To Make Butter: Combine peach pulp and sugar in a large sauce pot. Cook until thick enough to round up on a spoon. As mixture thickens, stir frequently to prevent sticking. Stir in spices.
Ladle hot butter into jars
Leaving a 1/4 inch headspace. A headspace is an area left unfilled between the top of the food in a home canning jar or freezer container and the rim of the jar or freezer container. Remove any air bubbles. Adjust two-piece caps. Process 10 minutes in a boiling water canner. A boiling-water canner is a kettle large enough to completely immerse and fully surround canning jars and two-piece caps with water. The boiling water canner is used for processing high-acid foods. Usually fruits.