Monday, August 6, 2012

food for thought.

It's been a really long time since I last posted. That's not to say that I haven't experimented with any new recipes or put up any food, but it is true that with three rowdy children of various ages, school (theirs and mine), extracurriculars, studying, studying, and more studying, I am less a canner now than I was before.  I have only put away two boxes of peaches this year, and I'm sad to say that I probably wasted a good part of the first box. With that in mind, and the box of beautiful, freestone O'Henry peaches staring me down, I decided to focus on putting up FOOD for a change. I usually do a lot of jams, preserves, and even a juice here and there, but this summer I've been working on deviating from condiments.

When I express my fears that everything will all go to hell, zombies will turn up, and it'll be us, gold, and guns, I've been known to boastfully point to my closet of beautiful jars of preserves. This is usually the point when the husband mentions that none of that is actual FOOD (in my mind FOOD is capitalized and spoken with urgency) in my pantry. This begs the question: In the event of some sort of apocalyptic, life changing event, what on earth will we have in terms of FOOD?

I decided to can peaches, so I consulted this book that I have, but truly, have a love and hate relationship with. The lady who wrote it...well...ummm...sometimes I think she's pretty cool.  Other times, I think she's sort of this faux Southern hack who tries to be some kind of rural that she's not.  DAMN IT. Nobody in the south wants "less sweet" bread and butter pickles. So, this chick has some good ideas about imparting different flavors into food which I have come to appreciate, but some of the stuff in her book is a bit la-dee-da while other stuff is just simply incorrect.  For the following recipe, I've taken the idea of infusing a flavor into my canning syrup, but followed the Fannie Farmer guide for the most part.

The jars have turned out beautifully, and as usual, the last ones are close to perfection. I don't think I packed the jars tightly enough the first time, so there's a lot of dead space in the jars.  That's not a huge issue, but it does sort of seem wasteful to think I could have gotten more fruit into the pints.  I'm really excited about having peaches put away for the winter--especially peaches that are not wrapped in BPA lined cans from the supermarket.

Without further ado, the recipe:

Canned Peaches with Raspberry Essence

You'll need:
as many peaches as you can handle putting up in one session!
raspberry vodka
pint or quart jars
lids/rings as appropriate
bottled lemon juice

Step 1:
Fill a large bowl with cool water and add 1-3 TBS lemon juice
Peel peaches *either by blanch/skin method or with a paring knife/vegetable peeler
Slice fruit into the size you'd like: halves, quarters, etc... and plop them into the bowl of water/lemon mixture to acidulate them. Some people prefer FruitFresh preparation. If that's you, omit the lemon juice.

Step 2:
Prepare the canning syrup.
1 cup sugar to every 2 cups of water.  (I used 8 cups of water and 4 cups sugar which turned out to be a bit much. When I do it next time, I think I'll take it down to 4-6 cups water and 2-3 cups sugar respectively)
1/4 cup raspberry flavored vodka (I used Stoli)
Bring syrup to a rapid boil, then remove from heat.

Step 3:
Drain peaches and pack into hot, sterilized jars.
Press the peaches down firmly, then drain any remaining water out of the jars leaving 1/2-3/4 inch head space.
Ladle syrup into jars, leaving at least 1/2 inch head space.

Step 4:
Wipe rims of jars, place hot prepared lids and rings on them.
Lower into pot of boiling water with canning tongs being mindful of the need to cover jars with at least 1 inch of water over the lids.
Process for 20 minutes (pints) and 25 minutes (quarts)

Step 5:
Remove jars from pot, place on cool surface to observe for proper sealing. When you've heard all the "pops" or can see that the jars have sealed, label them and put away for storage. If any jar has not sealed, immediately transfer it to the refrigerator and consume within a week.