Peaches and Pickles! It's Canning Day!
There were about 10 pounds of peaches in my basket so I slipped 7 pint jars in the dishwasher and found the same for the assorted pile of cucumbers that had accumulated over the last three days in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. I sorted out 14 rings and seals to pair with the jars and set the dishwasher to the sterile cycle. Next I set a large kettle of water to boil to use to slip the skins off the peaches. The cold packer was filled to the appropriate lever and that water was set to boil too. The next step was to prepare an ice bath by dumping ice cubes into a large plastic bowl I use for this and covering the ice with water.
Ascorbic acid keeps fruit from turning dark when preserving so I measured a teaspoon of "Fruit Fresh" per cup of water and made a bath for the peaches to sit in as I completed each one. I used 6 cups of water. I am really big on prep work and it is a heck of a lot easier to do it this way, I promise! Next step I made a generous batch of medium syrup as I am estimating how much I will need. I used 3 1/4 C. sugar and 5 C. water as the Ball Blue book suggests. This I put on a burner and heated to dissolve the sugar and then kept on a very low simmer.
Now the action stated as I dropped half a dozen peaches at a time into the boiling water started for that purpose. One minute exactly is how long I leave them then using my large spider or a large slotted spoon I remove them from the boiling water directly into the ice bath. One at a time I take a peach and halve it then catch the skin and slide it off. After popping out the peach pit I dropped the golden but rosie peach half into the bath of ascorbic acid to just relax until all of the peaches have been prepared in like manner.
When that task is completed I pulled out the hot jars from the dishwasher and filled them with the peach halves placing each cut side down until the jars were full, leaving 1/2" head space. Upon filling all of the jars with fruit I ladled the hot sugar syrup to cover the peaches again leaving 1/2" head space. Before sealing the jars I run a butter knife down the inside of the jar between the glass and the fruit to move any air bubbles to the top of the jar. Generally I take a damp paper towel and wipe the rim of each jar then place on the lid and ring tightening firmly but not tight tight.
By now the water in the cold packer is boiling so I place the jars in the rack and lower them into the bath. The water should cover the lids by a good inch so add water if needed. When the water comes back to a boil I reduce the heat to medium high and time the peaches to cook 20 minutes for pints.
When the timer is up I turn the burner off, take the lid off of the cold packer but I let it sit 5 minutes before taking the rack full of peaches out. I place a towel on the counter and set the rack of fruit on it to cool. After the lids ping I take the fruit from the rack and set aside to finish cooling. Home canned peaches are truly delicious and well worth the effort.
Note: Best to pick the cucumbers and have them refrigerated over night and cold. Then pack them into hot sterile jars. Time the water bath precisely. These are the key requirements for the crisp pickle success of this recipe.
Crispy Dill Pickles:
Cucumbers, about 24 4-inch , or 18 large
16 large peeled cloves of garlic
dill seed (I used a heaping teaspoon per pint jar.)
dried hot red peppers (I used 1/2 of a dried pepper per pint.)
5 C. white vinegar
5 C. water
1/2 C. pickling salt
Mix the vinegar, water, and salt in a stainless pan and bring to a boil and set to simmer.
Prepare jars and lids, wash and sterilize as above. Heat water in cold packer to boiling and hold.
Wash the cucumbers well and cut in whatever size and shape you prefer, chunks, spears, or slices. Pack the chilled cucumbers into the hot sterile pint jars. To each jar add 3 whole peeled cloves of garlic, 1 heaping teaspoon of dill seed, and 1/2 of a red hot pepper.
Take the brine back to a boil and ladle it into the filled jars leaving 1/2" head space. Wipe the rims of the jars and seal with the hot lids and bands snugly. Place in the boiling water bath and process for exactly 5 minutes. Mark the time as soon as you put the jars in. If you leave the jars in the bath any longer, they will get soft. Store the processed pickles several weeks before using. Yield 7 pints.