Canning season is late this year!
Normally food columnists talk about canning at the beginning of summer. Most of my canning, however, doesn’t really pick up steam until late Sept. when peaches, pears, tomatoes and apples are abundant. So, if you’ve always wanted to can, it’s not too late but you’d better get going.
As I’ve said before, I have a love — hate relationship with the canning season. All year long I look forward to eating and preserving fresh produce but when the time actually gets here I find myself dragging my feet at the process. On paper it all sounds very simple. In reality, it is messy and exhausting.
Phase I of the canning process is choosing the produce. We grow some vegetable but purchase the majority of our fruit from a variety of vendors. Once the produce is gathered, I begin the process of separating the “ripe and ready to eat” from the “ripe and ready to can.” Some get set aside until I decide what to do with them.
Phase II of the canning process begins with climbing the ladder to reach into the furthest corner of the outside storage and retrieve the canner and jars out of storage. The seal has to be checked on the canner and the jars have to washed. Depending on the size of the fruit, I have to make a decision about whether to can in quarts or pints. There are, after all, only two of us in our household. We don’t need lots of quarts but sometimes it’s necessary.
After the assembly line is set up, I wash and sort the produce and then the work begins: Dipping, peeling, slicing and so on. The drill for peaches goes something like this:
1. Check jars for any nicks
2. Wash jars in hot water
3. Boil the lids
4. Ready the canner
5. Make the syrup (thin, medium or heavy)
6. Dip the peaches in hot water for one min.
7. Peel and cut the peaches (put in a mild ascorbic acid solution)
8. Slide peaches in jars
9. Add syrup
10. Remove bubbles
11. Wipe Rim
12. Apply 2-piece lid
13. Put into the canner
14. Process Jars
15. Remove after processing to cool
16. Wash the jars after 24 hours
17. Store and eat like a king all winter long!
If you’re new to canning, it would be best if you could be someone’s helper for a day to see how the whole thing comes together. If that’s not possible, check out the Internet and see it there’s a video on canning procedures. Modern canning books have lots of pictures and instructions to help. The Ball Blue Book Guide to Home Canning, etc. is especially nice.
I’m a pretty basic canner and marinara sauce is about as wild as I get. But if you have lots of energy, you can put up soups, stews, potatoes, pie fillings and more! Just be sure that your equipment is in good working order and you have access to the OSU Extension Food Safety and Preservation Hotline at 541-682-4246.
Improved Elberta peaches are ready for eating and canning right now. The following pie recipe can be used with fresh, frozen or canned peaches. Of course, I think it’s best with fresh off the tree fruit. The final recipe, however, is for a canned Peach Pie Filling that you can freeze and have ready to use all year long. Enjoy!
1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for peaches on top of pie
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups sour cream
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup peeled, sliced peaches for pie filling
1-1/2 cups peeled, sliced peaches for garnish
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 (9-inch) baked pie shell
Note: If slicing the peaches ahead, mix them with 1 tablespoon lemon juice.
In the top of a double boiler, combine the flour, sugar and salt. Stir in the sour cream and cook over boiling water until thick, stirring constantly. Remove double boiler from heat, leaving the pan sitting over the hot water.
Place the eggs in a bowl and very gradually add 1/3 cup of the hot sour cream mixture, stirring quickly to blend; add this egg mixture to the remaining hot sour cream mixture, stirring quickly until smooth and well blended.
Return to double boiler over heat. Continue cooking about 3 minutes longer to set the eggs, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and cool. Fold in the 1 cup peaches and the vanilla.
Spoon into the baked pie shell and chill thoroughly. Just before serving, lightly sweeten the remaining peaches with the 2 tablespoons sugar and arrange them over the top of the pie. Top with a dollop of whipped cream if you wish. Serve immediately.
6 pounds peaches
2-1/4 cups sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons lemon peel
1/4 cup lemon juice
Peel, pit and slice peaches. Treat to prevent darkening. Combine sugar, flour and spices. Rinse and drain peaches; stir into sugar mixture. Let stand until juices begin to flow, about 30 min. Stir in lemon peel and lemon juice. Cook over medium heat until mixture begins to thicken. Ladle pie filling into can-or-freeze jars or plastic freezer boxes, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Cool at room temperature, not to exceed 2 hours. Seal, label and freeze. Yield: about 4 pints.