Canning Peaches with True Value

I’m partnering today with True Value to share some canning tricks and recipe for canning peaches in syrup. Make sure to read through to the end for a chance to win a $50 True Value gift card! 

As someone who does a lot of canning, I am often asked about my favorite places to get canning jars and equipment. One of my favorite places to recommend is True Value hardware store. Most locations carry the canning basics (though it’s always a good idea to call your local store and ask about their stock before hopping in the car).

If they don’t have it in stock, you can almost always order the jars online and use their ship-to-store option. That way, you can get exactly what you need, you don’t have to pay for all those heavy jars, and you support a local business.

For this post, I took a little field trip out to a True Value location near me. They had a wide range of jars, as well as pickling salt, basic canning tools, a copy of the latest edition of the Ball Blue Book, and even a replacement pressure canner weight (while it looked like it had been there for awhile, those things don’t expire, so it was still good).

I came home from my outing with three cases of jars (regular mouth half pints, wide mouth half pints, and some of the new smooth-sided pints). I also picked up a new utensil set, some extra lids (because while jars and rings can be used over and over, the flat lids can only be used once), and some pickling salt (I was out!).

Any time you tackle a canning project, you want to take stock of what you have. You’ll need a large pot to serve as your boiling water bath canner (you can find more detail about that here), as well as a rack to drop in the bottom. This lifts the jars off the bottom of the pot and allows the water to circulate. I often use the flexible silicone trivet pictured above, but a round cake cooling rack is also a really good option.

You also need the tools that come in the canning Utensil Kit (jar lifter, wide mouth funnel, and headspace measure), and a heatproof spoon or spatula with which to stir.

When you’re ready to get started, take the jars out of their packaging. Remove the lids and rings and wash the jars, lids, and rings in warm soapy water. I’ve been in the factory where Ball jars are fitted with lids, boxed, and sealed and it not a sterile environment. Those jars my look clean, but they’re filled with factory dust and residue. Wash them.

Once your jars squeaky clean, fit your rack into the bottom of the canning pot and arrange your jars on top. Fill the jars with warm tap water and then fill the pot up to the rims of the jars.

Set that pot on the stove, add a healthy splash of white vinegar (this helps keep your jars and pot clean, and if you have hard water, will prevent any minerals from depositing on your jars). Bring the pot to boil and reduce the heat to your lowest simmer, to keep the jars warm.

The rule of thumb is that hot food needs to go into hot jars. While mason jars are designed to withstand temperature changes of up to 90 degrees F, any more of a change could cause thermal shock which will lead to breakage.

Now that your jars are ready, it’s time to start making your preserve. We’re in the midst of peach season here in Philadelphia and so I opted to make a small batch of preserved peach quarters, packed in a light syrup. For those of you concerned about the amount of sugar, know that it doesn’t really sink into the peaches too much, and will greatly help prevent the peaches from browning. However, if you prefer, you can also pack these peaches in fruit juice.

First, make the syrup. Combine 3 cups of water with 3/4 cups granulated sugar in a 4 quart saucepan. Add 2 tablespoons of bottled lemon juice (this is present to help prevent browning) and bring to a simmer. Stir occasionally to ensure that the sugar dissolves.

Cut three pounds of peaches into quarters, remove the pits, and arrange the peaches in a heatproof baking dish (it’s best to do this in your sink). Bring a kettle of water to a boil. Once it is hot, pour it over the peaches and let them sit for 2-3 minutes.

When the time is up, run cold water over the peaches. Provided that the peaches were ripe enough (peeling underripe peaches is torture), the peels should lift off easily. As you work, gently slide each peeled peach quarter into the hot syrup so that the amount of time the peaches are exposed to the air is limited.

Once all the peaches are peeled and in the pot, bring the syrup to a boil and cook for one minute. Remove the pot from the heat. Pull the hot canning jars out of the canning pot and arrange them on a folded kitchen towel. Position a wide mouth funnel on top of a jar and use a slotted spoon to portion the hot peach quarters into the jars.

Top the jars with syrup and use a utensil like a wooden chopstick or the bubbling tool that comes in the utensil kit to ease out any trapped air bubbles. Fill the jars with syrup, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.

Wipe the rims of the jars with a damp paper towel. Center a clean lid on the jar and apply the ring. Tighten it only until it meets resistance. You don’t want to overtighten it, as that could cause the lid to buckle during processing. Place the jars in the canner, put the lid on, and bring the pot up to a rolling boil. Process the peaches in your canning pot for 20 minutes (if you live at elevations above 1,000 feet, you’ll need to increase your processing time. Check out the chart here).

When the time is up, turn off the heat, pull the canner off the hot burner, and remove the lid. Let the jars cool in the canning pot for five minutes (this helps prevent liquid from siphoning out of the jars and produces a stronger seal). Once that time is up, remove the jars from the pot and set them back on the folded kitchen towel.

Let them cool undisturbed for at least 12 hours. Once that time is up, check the seals. If the lids are concave and seem strongly adhered to the jars, you are good. Wipe any sticky residue off the jars and store in a cool, dark place. For the best quality peaches, eat them within a year.

This post was written in partnership with True Value hardware. As part of our agreement, they gave me $100 to spend on canning gear at my local shop. I only ended up spending about half what they allocated and so I’ve decided to share the remaining $50 True Value gift card with one of you! Please use the widget below to enter.

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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of True Value. The opinions and text are all mine.

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Small Batch Nectarine Lime Jam Recipe

On the hunt for a quick, satisfying preservation project? Look no further than this small batch nectarine lime jam recipe!

I love making tiny batches of jam (I often wish I could write a second volume of Preserving by the Pint, because I so enjoy developing small, quick preserving recipes). This one is a three ingredient job, made with just 1 1/2 pounds of nectarines (thanks Washington State Stone Fruit Growers!), a scant cup of sugar, and the zest and juice from a small lime.

Cooked down in a stainless steel skillet, it needs no more than 15 minutes on the stove. You can either process it, or funnel it into a jar, pop it in the fridge, and eat it until it is gone. Fast. Easy. Good.

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Indiana Peach Chutney Recipe

A vintage recipe updated for modern palates and kitchens, this take on Indiana Peach Chutney is a little spicy, perfectly sweet, and is ideal for preserving peach season.

Six jars of Indiana Peach Chutney

I woke up Sunday morning, itching to get rid of some cookbooks. At least once a year, I like to sort through my absurdly large collection and move some things along. My criteria for letting go of books is pretty simple (if a little haphazard).

If I’ve never cooked from it, I pull it from the shelf and flip through. If nothing strikes my fancy, it goes in the outward bound stack. If spot something that tickles my culinary creativity, I drop a marker in the book and either put it back on the shelf or, if it’s something I want to make in the immediate future, I put the book on my desk.

The Best in American Cooking, the book that contains the recipe for Indiana Peach Chutney

I had spent the previous couple days in Indiana for the Can-It Forward Day festivities, and so when I evaluated whether I was going to keep my copy of Clementine Paddleford’s The Best in American Cooking, the recipe for Indiana Peach Chutney caught my eye.

It also spoke to me because I had a fridge full of peaches and nectarines from the latest shipment from Washington State Stone Fruit Growers and needed to start moving that fruit into jars.

The original recipe for Indiana Peach Chutney

Of course, I didn’t follow the recipe to the letter. To begin with, I don’t have the patience for a process that requires one to poach the fruit in a sugar syrup until translucent (I used a combination of peaches and nectarines, and didn’t peel any of them, either).

Next thing to go was the two styles of raisins (I had dark ones in abundance and so that’s what I used). Finally, I couldn’t abide the idea of adding food coloring. I was certain that whatever color it ended up being would be totally fine.

Indiana Peach Chutney ingredients in the pot

If you tuned in to Monday night’s livestream (catch the next one on Monday, August 21 at 9 pm eastern), this is the recipe I used to demonstrate steam canning (I promised it a bit earlier than this, but such is life).

The finished flavor is gingery, a little bit spicy, and very fruity. Like many other chutneys, this one is going to be great with cheese, perfect as a bright condiment alongside grain bowls, and delightful on a post-Thanksgiving turkey sandwich.

Close up on jars of Indiana Peach Chutney

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Giveaway: Anolon Vesta Cast Iron 7 Quart Casserole

I bought my first piece of enameled cast iron cookware in the spring of 2007. It was from TJ Maxx and cost all of $40 (which felt like a fortune on my grad student budget). It was lime green, held about five quarts, and I thought it was the nicest thing in my kitchen. Heartbreakingly, the enamel began to chip and crack after only dozen uses.

Since then, I’ve had a number of pieces of enameled cast iron from a number of different makers, but continue to search for the unicorn of this category. A piece that is affordable enough that I can recommend it to someone on a grad school budget, that doesn’t chip easily, holds enough to feed a crowd, and is great for cooking down jams, fruit butters, and sauces.

Friends, I think I’ve finally found the mythical creature of enameled cast iron cookware and it’s known as Anolon’s Vesta Cast Iron 7 Quart Casserole. The outside is an elegant coffee color and the interior sports a matte black enamel interior. The underside of the lid is studded with raised nubs that are designed to channel flavorful liquid back into the food as it cooks. It conducts heat evenly, cleans up beautifully, and is far more affordable than other enameled cast iron pots of comparable size.

Now, if this pot looks familiar, that’s because I featured the braiser from this line a couple of years back. And while I still regularly employ that braiser, this seven quart casserole is the pot that’s taken up permanent residence on my stove top. I’ve used it for at least eight batches of jam, chutney, and compotes, as well as several rounds of soup and pasta sauce. It’s a work horse and I couldn’t be more pleased with it.

If you watched my livestream earlier tonight, you saw me scooping chutney out of this very pot! And happily, this week the folks at Anolon are letting me give away one of these highly useful, totally durable, and perfectly elegant casseroles away to a lucky blog reader! Use the widget below to enter!

For more information about Anolon and their cookware, follow them on social media. Here’s where you can find them.

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | YouTube

Disclosure: Anolon is provided both the casserole you see here and the one I’m giving away at no cost to me. All opinions expresses are entirely my own. 

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Upcoming Classes: Facebook! Glen Mills, PA! Sewell, NJ! Arundel, ME!

After a slow few weeks, event season is picking back up around these parts. Here’s where you’ll find me this week!

Monday, August 7
It’s a Facebook Live night! I’ll be streaming on my Facebook page from 9-10 pm Eastern Time. Tonight, I’ll be talking about steam canning, which is one of the skills we’re focusing on in this month’s Mastery Challenge.

Tuesday, August 8
I will be at the Rachel Kohl Community Library in Glen Mills, PA from 6-7:30 pm, offering a free small batch jam making demo. I will have a limited number of books with me and will offer up tastes of the jam at the end of the event.

Thursday, August 10
You’ll find me at the Margaret E. Heggan Free Public Library in Sewell, NJ from 7 to 8:30 pm for a free pickle making workshop. I’ll show you how to make both refrigerator pickles and shelf stable pickles and will have samples for tasting. I’ll also have a limited number of books with me for sale and signature.

Saturday, August 12
I’ll be at Frinklepod Farm in Arundel, ME for a four-hour, hands-on canning workshop. Participants will peel, chop, stir, pack, and can 3-4 delicious batches of jams, pickles, and chutneys. This empowering and fun workshop is appropriate for both beginners and experienced canners alike and all participants will go home with jars of preserves made in class. More details and registration information here.

For all my upcoming classes, head over to the classes and events page!

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Skills for the August Mastery Challenge

It’s August and that means that for those of you participating in the Mastery Challenge (and remember, you can opt in or out each month), it’s time to try out a new skill. This time around, we’ve got two skill options to choose from. You can either try Low Temperature Pasteurization or Steam Canning (or both). Let’s split them apart and dig into each technique individually.

What is Low Temperature Pasteurization?

Low Temperature Pasteurization (LTP) is a process in which you simmer jars of pickles in water that’s between 180 and 185 degrees F rather than process them in a boiling water bath. You do this for a longer period of time (typically 25-30 minutes). The longer, lower temperature allows you to kill off bacteria while retaining a firmer finished texture.

This technique is used primarily for pickles, as a way to retain a crunchier, firmer texture (though don’t get too excited. They still soften a little. But it’s better than pickles from a boiling water bath canner). The pickles are prepared just as you would for a boiling water bath process and are fully submerged in water for best heat penetration.

The trickiest bit of LTP is maintaining the proper temperature. I like to use an immersion circulator (as described in this post from last fall), but a reliable stovetop or portable induction burner will also do the trick. Just make sure to have a good digital candy thermometer that can clip onto the pot on hand to keep tabs on the temperature.

Currently, this process has only been tested on cucumber pickles, but adventurous canners might also try it on hot peppers (similar pH to cucumbers) or green tomatoes (lower pH) to create more textural finished pickles.

For more on this process, I recommend reading this piece on Healthy Canning and this one on The Babbling Botanist.

What is Steam Canning?

Before we dig in, let’s address the elephant in the room. Some of you might be thinking, “hey, isn’t steam canning a prohibited technique?” Well, for the longest time, steam canning wasn’t a process that was recommended by canning experts. This wasn’t because it was necessarily unsafe, but instead because there wasn’t funding available to do the research necessary to determine its safety. However, thanks to research done at the University of Wisconsin, it has been determined that it is now safe to use under certain circumstances.

Steam canning (also sometimes known as atmospheric steam canning so as to differentiate it from pressure canning, which also uses steam), is a process in which jars are enclosed in a large pot that contains a few inches of water and is in possession of a tight-fitting lid. The water is brought to a boil, which produces steam. The steam reaches 212 degrees F (same as the water would), and the jars are duly processed.

You typically see two different kinds of steam canners. There are those that look like old-fashioned cake tins, with a shallow base and a large domed lid. The second type looks like a traditional boiling water bath, but has a rack designed to elevate the jars and a thermometer in the handle, allowing you to see when the interior of the pot has achieved the proper temperature.

The benefits of steam canning are that you don’t need to use as much water (great for drought-stricken areas), you don’t need to keep your burner at full blast (once you’ve built up a head of steam, you don’t need as much heat to maintain it), and because you’re working with less water, it takes less time and energy to reach the proper temperature.

Steam canning can be used for any high acid preserve, provided it is processed for 45 minutes or less. Any longer and you run the risk of boiling the water reservoir dry, which isn’t good for your preserve or your cookware.

For more on steam canning, read this piece from the University of Wisconsin Extension, this article from Healthy Canning, and this one from canning doyenne Linda Ziedrich.

Recipes

I’m not going to recommend recipes this month, because the field is pretty wide open. You can do a small assortment of pickles with LTP and an almost endless array of recipes with steam canning. Try applying one of these techniques to an old favorite, or test drive them with something new and delicious. The choice is yours!

To be included in the monthly stats and round-up, please submit your finished project by Wednesday, August 30 using this form.

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