I always thought I'd like to do some canning, in the way that people think they might like to write a novel, some time, in the future, when other interests have palled, perhaps when they've retired and don't have enough to do. But this summer I had canning thrust upon me. D's father Raymond, who has an intensively planted city garden, has always canned--tomatoes, peaches, pears. And this year, he decided he wasn't up to it any more, so D said we would do it. Sure, we'll do it, I said comfortably back in June when the peaches were still in the future, and I sat back to read another ancient mystery I'd found when cleaning the closet.
And then the peaches arrived! Several hundred of them.
So we're canning, and just in time for the 22nd Sugar High Friday, Can You Can, hosted at Delicious Days.
The main reference we used (besides D's father, who had plenty to say) was the older version of The Joy of Cooking, which has been there for me through many culinary triumphs and failures. We supplemented it with an intensely wordy online treatise from the USDA, and a perky but useful FAQ, here.
So far, we've done 35 pints of peaches and 10 quarts, canned in a medium sugar syrup by the cold-pack method. We've had 4 exploding jars (they didn't really explode, just broke in the hot water bath), which was exciting (what was that noise!?) but annoying. We don't need cologne because we carry with us a mild but pervasive odor of peachiness. We have only one peach-related injury--D cut his knuckle during some over-enthusiastic peeling.
We've learned several things: pack those peaches in tightly; when they say to fill the jars with a certain amount of headroom, they really mean it; boiling water is HOT!; and, although this may seem obvious, peeled peaches are slippery. Mainly we've learned that it isn't as hard as I feared it might be. It's the kind of thing that you get better at the more you do it. And I have to say that I feel an immense sense of accomplishment when I look at the jars on the dining room table.
I'm thinking: we can do this!; which is a good thing, because in a couple of weeks, the pears are going to start coming in.