Thursday, September 18, 2008

summer in a jar

Recall the peach jamboree madness? Here's what happened to a mere 3 pounds of them back in June. Risking burned limbs and anaerobic bacterial growth, I had a little foray into canning. Sadly, I lost my photographic adventures of this project, but thought I aught to document it for my own edification anyway.

Peach Preserves

What you need:
4 1/2-pint mason jars and new lids, washed

3 lbs. peeled and roughly sliced peaches , about 5 cups of fruit
2/3 c sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tbs. lemon juice
a very healthy splash or two of triple sec

Toss peaches, sugar, cinnamon, and lemon juice together in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and let stand 3 or 4 hours. This is what we call macerating.

Place a colander in a big skillet or wok. Pour fruit and juice through colander, and let drain for 20 minutes. Remove fruit to a bowl. Measure depth of juice in pan with a chopstick.

Bring the juice to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat enough to keep the juice boiling fairly rapidly (the surface will appear foamy with small bubbles covering the entire surface). Boil until the juice is reduced by half. This will take about 20 minutes. To test the amount of reduction, place the chopstick in the pan and see where the surface hits in relation to the original measurement. By this time, the juice has become a light, slightly glistening syrup.

Get a pot of gently boiling water going.

Add the fruit, any additional juice that has accumulated, and the triple sec. Continue cooking until the peaches begin to take on a translucent, caramelized look around the edges, and the syrup is quite thick. This will take about 15 minutes. There will be lots of splattering of screaming hot sugar, so protect your hands and arms to avoid battle scars.

Remove the mixture from the heat. Ladle the hot jam into one hot jar at a time, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe jar rim clean. Attach lid. Fill and close remaining jars. submerge jars in pot of boiling water for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and let cool till you can safely fish out the jars. Let sit on the counter overnight. Hopefully a seal should form. Nurse your burns and take pride that you'll be enjoying your peaches year-round.

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