It is finally fall. Finally time for apple picking, pumpkin patches, golden red leaves, and warm homemade soups. Finally time to grab your jackets out of storage and time to put those flip-flops away.
I’m ready for you, fall. … Even if it is still in the 80s – stubborn Missouri.
With the fall comes time to harvest. And with the harvest, comes my favorite activity: canning.
Yes, I would list canning as one of my favorite activities or hobbies. There’s something magical in taking thirteen pounds of ripe peaches, slicing them or cooking them down into peach butter, and sealing them in glass jars to save for a cold winter’s day. Nothing is better than a taste of summer when the temperature is below zero.
My idea of a perfect Saturday is spent in the kitchen. The window is open to let in a crisp fall breeze. Deano and Frank are playing in the background. Our little rugrat is playing on the floor, and my canner is working magic on the stove.
And here, my friends, is how to use a water-bath canner.
A quick side note – you don’t actually need a canner, just a big ‘ol pot – that’s what we used for years. This summer, we finally bought a canner. I love it because we can fit more jars in than a regular pot (check it out here).
What you need:
- Something delicious to process and preserve (like peach butter)
- A large canner, or stockpot
- Glass mason jars with rings and new lids
- Jar lifter or tongs
- Canning funnel
To make Peach Butter, you really only need two ingredients: ripe peaches, and a sprinkle of sweetener (if you desire).
Start by slicing your peaches into quarters, removing the pits.
Place your peaches into a blender or food processor to process until smooth – our goal is a peach puree, not peach juice!
Pour your pureed peach goodness into a large cooking pot or dutch oven.
Cook on medium-low heat, stirring frequently to prevent burning. Your peaches should simmer for thirty five minutes or so, until they reach the desired consistency and become thick, smooth butter.
As you taste test your peaches during the cooking process, feel free to sprinkle in some sweetener (we’ve used white cane sugar or brown sugar).
While your peaches are cooking down, you’ll need to prep your canner and materials.
Fill your canner with water and add your glass mason jars. The jars need to sit in the water long enough that the water is simmering or lightly boiling. This allows your jars to be sterilized, and it safely heats up the jars so that when you pour in your deliciously hot peach butter, the jars don’t crack.
When your jars are warm and your peaches have melted into butter, you can start preserving!
One at a time, use your jar lifter or tongs to empty the jars of water and place on the counter top. Place your jar funnel in the jar and fill with peach butter, leaving ¼ inch of headspace. Take a clean butter knife and run along the inside of the glass to remove any air bubbles lurking at the bottom. Use a clean, damp towel to wipe off the rim of your jar. You want to remove any stray peach butter left behind on the rim or in the threads of the jar.
Place a new lid on your jar. Screw your ring on securely and repeat this process until all jars are full.
Using a jar lifter or tongs, place your jars filled with summer goodness into the canner (which is still full of hot water). When your canner is full, cover with the lid and turn up the heat.
You’ll need to boil the jars – a hard boil, not a simmer – for 10-13 minutes. Don’t start your timer until the water in the canner is already boiling to make sure the peach butter has enough time to process – this allows the lid to seal completely and any pesky bacteria to be killed off.
When your processing timer goes off, turn off the heat and remove the canner lid. Allow the jars to sit in the water for a few minutes to settle. Then using tongs or a jar lifter, place your jars on a towel on your kitchen counter. Let them sit, undisturbed, for the next 24 hours. Soon your should hear the magical *pop* of the lids sealing!
And there you have it! A taste of summer sweetly preserved in glass jars. You are a canning, food preserving master!
Now that we’ve reached apple season, the canning opportunities are endless. Apple butter, apple sauce, apple pie filling, cinnamon apples. I think I’ll just sit here awhile, fresh espresso in hand, and brainstorm apple recipes to can.
— And with that thought, my baby woke up from his nap. I guess I’ll have to postpone my apple daydreams for a little while.
As always, may your heart and your pantry, be full.