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You think making and canning your own spiced peaches is difficult? Nope! Here the traditional southern spiced peaches recipe, made easy!
Prepared this way, the jars have a shelf life of 18 months to 2 years, and require no special attention. A side benefit is that your house will smell wonderful while it is cooking - much better than potpourri!
Yield: about 6 pints
The most important step! You need peaches that are sweet, and to make the work easier, cling-free (also called freestone). This means that the peach separates easily from the pit! Same with nectarines, and this doesn't apply to cherries or plums.
Choose ripe, mature fruit. They should not be mushy, but they also should not be rock hard: just as ripe as you would eat them fresh. Green, unripe peaches will soften but will not ripen, nor have the flavor of tree-ripe peaches.
After this step, I'll just refer to "peaches" but it applies to plums, cherries and nectarines.
You can pick your own, or buy them at the grocery store. For very large quantities (more than a few bushels), you will find that real* farmer's markets, like the Farmer's Market in Forest Park, Georgia have them at the best prices.
It takes about 24 medium sized peaches or nectarines (or about 30 plums) to make 3 quarts of prepared spiced peaches.
I'm sure you can figure out how to wash the peaches in plain cold or lukewarm water.
Nope, we're not going to peel them by hand; that's way too much work. Instead, here's a great trick that works with many fruits and vegetables with skins (like tomatoes): just dip the fruit in boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds. Remove from the water using a slotted spoon and put into a large bowl or pot of cold water and ice. The skins will easily slide off now!
In boiling water for 60 seconds,
then in cold water for 2 min.
Nectarines do not need to be peeled, if you don't mind the skins.
Cut out any brown spots and mushy areas. Cut the peaches in half, or quarters or slices, as you prefer! Remove pits!
NOTE: the traditional Southern style is to leave the peaches whole (and stick the cloves into them) You can do this and follow the rest of the directions. Some folks don't even peel the peaches (it's up to you: I like them peeled, pits removed and sliced; they're just less messy to eat!)
in a medium sized pot (6 quarts or bigger). and get it heating over medium heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved.
NOTE: The sweetener can be sugar, Stevia (in a prepared form like Truvia, it measures same as sugar; if you use another form, you will need do your own conversion) - or Splenda, if you prefer, , fruit juice (peach juice or white grape juice work well) or none at all! Generally, spiced peaches is a fairly sweet concoction, so you might want to add some sweetening. I usually add about 4 cups of sugar and 4 cups Splenda (or about 1/3 that if you use Stevia, which is my preference), so it's sweet, but not loaded with sugar.
Tie the cinnamon sticks and whole cloves in a double thickness of cheesecloth and add them to the pot. For spicier peaches, use additional cloves and cinnamon sticks.
Bring to boiling, cover the pot, and boil for five minutes.
remove the cover and boil for five minutes longer.
Add peaches to hot syrup. Bring syrup to boiling again and simmer peaches for 10 minutes or until tender (covered with a lid or splatter guard).
Now's a good time to get the jars ready, so you won't be rushed later. The dishwasher is fine for the jars; especially if it has a "sanitize" cycle, the water bath processing will sanitize them as well as the contents! If you don't have a dishwasher with a sanitize cycle, you can wash the containers in hot, soapy water and rinse, then sanitize the jars by boiling them 10 minutes, and keep the jars in hot water until they are used.
Leave the jars in the dishwasher on "heated dry" until you are ready to use them. Keeping them hot will prevent the jars from breaking when you fill them with the hot spiced peaches .
Put the lids into a pan of hot, but not quite boiling water (that's what the manufacturer's recommend) for 5 minutes, and use the magnetic "lid lifter wand" to pull them out.
Fill them to within ¼-inch of the top, wipe any spilled spiced peaches of the top, seat the lid and tighten the ring around them. Put them in the canner and keep them cover with at least 1 inch of water and boiling. if you are at sea level (up to 1,000 ft) boil pint jars for 5 minutes and quart jars for 10 min. If you are at an altitude of 1,000 feet or more, see this chart:
|Process Time at Altitudes of|
|Jar Size||0 - 1,000 ft||1,001 - 6,000 ft||Above 6,000 ft|
|Half-pints or Pints||5 min||10||15|
Lift the jars out of the water and let them cool without touching or bumping them in a draft-free place (usually takes overnight) You can then remove the rings if you like, but if you leave them on, at least loosen them quite a bit, so they don't rust in place due to trapped moisture. Once the jars are cool, you can check that they are sealed verifying that the lid has been sucked down. Just press in the center, gently, with your finger. If it pops up and down (often making a popping sound), it is not sealed. If you put the jar in the refrigerator right away, you can still use it. Some people replace the lid and reprocess the jar, then that's a bit iffy. If you heat the contents back up, re-jar them (with a new lid) and the full time in the canner, it's usually ok.
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