Prolonging Your Peaches (and other summer fruit)
GENERAL INSTRUCTIONS FOR
Before you begin, inspect jar rims for cracks and nicks, which can prevent a proper seal. Meticulously clean jars, lids, and screw bands in hot soapy water and rinse thoroughly. Keep jars and lids hot in scalding water until ready to fill. Although a dishwasher is not a must, it is a real timesaver, as it can wash large batches of jars and lids and hold them at the proper temperature until needed. Note: To avoid possible shattering, never pour boiling water or hot food into a cool jar, and never place a cool jar directly into boiling water.Fill hot jars with the prepared recipe, carefully following directions for either hot pack or raw pack procedures. Work quickly to ensure the jars do not cool, or they may crack when they contact the boiling water. When packing jars, allow the proper headspace indicated in the recipe to accommodate expansion of food during processing. Too little headspace can force food past the lid and prevent a sound seal.
After filling, release any air bubbles trapped in the jar by running a kitchen knife or other thin, flat utensil around the inner walls of the jar. Wipe the rims with a clean damp cloth before placing the heated lid on the jar, with the "composition" side next to the glass. Secure the lid with a screw band.
Load the jars into the jar rack and, using the two handles, carefully lower it into the boiling water in the canning kettle. Adjust the water level so that it is at least 1 inch above the tops of the jars. Cover the canner with its lid. Start timing when the water returns to a full boil and process for the length of time indicated in your recipe. Do not allow the water to fall beneath the appropriate level or drop below a boil.
CHUNKY PEACH JAM (YUM)
Whether spread on buttered toast at breakfast, basted on a holiday ham, or spooned over vanilla ice cream, you'll love the luscious fruit flavor.
Season: Mid- to late summer
Yield: 6 cups
Store: Cool, dark pantry
6 cups peeled, pitted, coarsely chopped firm-ripe peaches (about 3 pounds)
5 cups sugar
4 to 6 tablespoons lemon juice
Combine the peaches, sugar, and 4 tablespoons of the lemon juice in a preserving pan. Taste and add more lemon juice as needed to make the fruit pleasantly tart. Heat the mixture over medium heat and stir to dissolve the sugar. Cook the jam until it reaches 220°F on a kitchen thermometer. Remove from heat.
Carefully ladle the hot jam into hot, sterilized pint or half-pint jars, allowing 1/4 inch headspace. Follow the water-bath canning instructions above and process for 10 minutes.
Variation: Crack 6 peach pits and add the nutty kernels to the boiling jam for a subtle almond flavor. Divide the pits among the jars before filling. Nectarines, apricots, or plums may be substituted for the peaches. Rather than peeling the apricots or plums, process to a coarse purée in a food processor before cooking.