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Canning summer’s end: Peaches and beets with honey

Sep 6th, 2016 | Category: Cooking

by Corina Sahlin

One of my favorite ways to preserve summer’s bounty is canning peaches and beets with honey. These jars will be like liquid gold in winter, when the soil is bare and home-grown fruits and vegetables are a distant memory.

Peaches out of the canner and ready for the final part: “Ping!” This is the sound of the jars sealing. Ping! Ping! Ping! PHOTO BY CORINA SAHLIN

Peaches out of the canner and ready for the final part: “Ping!” This is the sound of the jars sealing. Ping! Ping! Ping! PHOTO BY CORINA SAHLIN

We preserve peaches and beets by canning them with honey, which is healthier than sugar, tastes like manna from the heavens, and looks pretty.

 

Canned Peaches with Honey

What you need:

12 mason jars with lids

33 quart water bath canner

Canning jar lifter

Pyrex measuring cup

Canning funnel

Knife

18 pounds peaches (or less, of course, and adjust the recipe accordingly)

3 cups honey

water for hot water bath and for honey syrup (6 quarts for syrup, and half the canner full for canning)

 

Prepare your equipment

Make sure the mason jars are all nice and clean. I sterilize them in the dishwasher.

Fill the hot water bath canner halfway with water and start heating it up, so it will be almost boiling by the time your jars are ready to go in it.

Put lids and rings into hot water.

Get the honey and equipment all lined up in a row, ready to do their duty.

Wash the peaches.

 

Prepare the syrup

Heat 6 quarts of water to boiling. Once it boils, turn off the heat and add 3 cups honey. You don’t want the honey to boil, so don’t put it in while the water boils. This amount of syrup is generous – you might have some left over. You will need more or less depending on how tightly you pack the peaches into the jar, but I like having too much syrup rather than running out of it, which messes up the whole timing.

 

Cut up the peaches

I cut them in eight pieces because my peaches this year were really big, and I want bite-size pieces. Remove the pits.

 

Pack the jars

Put the peach pieces in the mason jars, making sure to pack them tightly. Press down on them as you pack, but not too much so they squish become bruised and messy. Press down enough to encourage them to make more space for other fellow peach pieces.

Pack all jars before proceeding.

Pour hot syrup over the peaches. Grab your canning funnel and put it on top of one jar. Carefully pour hot syrup (the glass pyrex measuring cup works great for that) into the jar. Go slowly. Fill liquid up to 1/2 inch to the top.

Now comes the important part: run a knife along the sides of the jar to dislodge any air bubbles. Press against the peaches to release the trapped air bubbles. You don’t want air bubbles in your canned jars because they will lead to spoilage and prevent the lids from sealing. If there is too much air, some of the peaches might stick out of the syrup and thus discolor or develop off-flavors.

After the first jar is filled with peaches and syrup, wipe the top of the glass jar rim with a paper towel. You just want to make sure no peach pieces stick to it and prevent the lid from sealing.

Now put on the lid and screw on the ring. I put one jar into the canner at a time. The water in the canner should be super hot by now.
Process in hot water bath for 30 minutes

Grab the jar with your canning jar lifter and place the jar very slowly into the hot water in the canner.

Make sure the jars touch the bottom of the canner very gently. No shock waves, please, otherwise the glass will crack, and beautiful peaches and peach juice will spill and be wasted.

After all jars are in the canner, turn the heat on high and put the lid on. The water should come a little bit above the top of the jars.

Now wait until the water comes to a rolling boil. The jars have to be canned for 30 minutes, but the 30 minutes don’t start when you put them in. Only start counting the second the water is boiling.

When the canning time is over, turn off the heat and lift out the jars, one at a time, with your canning jar holder. Careful here! It will be hot and steamy.

Keep the jars upright, not tilted, and slowly and carefully lift them out of the canner. Just in case a jar broke and you don’t know it, it’s good to do this slowly so you won’t get splashed.

Gently set them down onto a towel on a counter, not touching each other, but allowing for plenty of airflow.

Now comes my favorite part. You don’t have to do this if you don’t have time, but it’s so satisfying. As you proudly stare at your jars of steaming golden peaches, listen for this sound: “Ping!” This is the sound of the jars sealing. Ping! Ping! Ping! Oh, how I love the Ping!

Corina Sahlin homesteads in Marblemount with her family and offers online courses through her website. For more information, see www.marblemounthomestead.com.

 

Dilly Beans

 

Ingredients 

4 pounds (or about 4 quarts) well-washed whole green beans

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper per pint jar

1/2 teaspoon whole mustard seeds per pint jar

1/2 teaspoon dill seeds per pint jar

1 garlic clove per pint jar

5 cups vinegar

5 cups water

1/2 cup salt

 

Directions

Cut beans into lengths to fit into pint jars and pack them into the jars.

Add pepper, mustard seeds, dill seeds and garlic.

Heat vinegar, water and salt together to a boiling point.

Pour boiling liquid over beans, leaving 1/4-inch headspace.

Put lids and rings onto jars.

Process in a boiling-water bath for 5 minutes.

 

Bread and Butter Pickles with Honey

 

Ingredients 

30 medium-sized cucumbers

10 medium-sized onions

4 Tablespoons canning salt

8 pints

 

Spiced Vinegar:

5 cups vinegar

2 teaspoons celery seed

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon turmeric

2 teaspoons white mustard seeds

2 cups honey

 

Directions

Cut cucumbers into 1/4-inch slices. Cut onions in whatever bite-sized pieces you want. Put them into a large bowl and sprinkle with salt, let it rest for one hour (or in the fridge overnight).

Make spiced vinegar (without honey) and bring it to a boil, then turn off heat. Add honey.

Pack cucumber and onion pieces in jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace.

Put lids and rings onto jars.

Process in a boiling-water bath for 10 minutes.

 

Pickled Beets with Honey

 

Ingredients 

1 gallon beets, plus water to cover them
1 Tablespoon whole allspice
1 long stick cinnamon (if you don’t have that, throw in 1/4 teaspoon powdered cinnamon)
1 quart vinegar (white or apple cider vinegar)
1 cup honey

3-4 quart mason jars with lids
(I always triple or quadruple the recipe above)

 

Directions
Leave about 2 inches of stem on the beets. Leave the roots on, too. If you cut into the beets now, they’ll start “bleeding” all over the water when you cook them, and you don’t want that.

Wash the beets thoroughly.

Cook beets until they are tender, about 20 minutes.
Don’t cut the bigger beets at this point, otherwise they will leak and loose some nutrition into the water.

Drain and then put them into ice water.

Now things are getting messy! You need to slip off the skins, which is easy and quickly accomplished by rubbing your fingers along the beet, thereby taking off the skin. It helps to do this over running water under the tap, or by keeping a bowl handy to dip into to get the skins off your hands. Your fingers and your sink will look very red.
Cut bigger beets into smaller pieces if you want to have uniform pieces that all fit nicely into a mason jar.
Combine spices and vinegar and heat them in a large pot – but not the honey yet!

Put the beets into this hot vinegar brew and simmer for 15 minutes. After that, add the honey.

Pack the beets into hot, sterilized quart or pint mason jars, then cover with the hot vinegar syrup. Leave 1/4-inch headspace. Adjust seals and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
I found that placing the hot jars with the hot beets and syrup into the canner very, very gently keeps the jars from breaking. It’s frustrating to go through all this work and break the jars, which will then leak beets and red liquid everywhere.

When they are done, put them on a counter in a draft-free spot and let them cool undisturbed.

 

Published in the September 2016 issue of Grow Northwest

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