I’m not sure what possessed me to take on canning today – other than the giant box of 2nds peaches I picked up at the market this morning. The peaches were a little underripe, and I wanted to leave them on the counter in a bag to ripen, but the fruit flies would not allow that to happen. I don’t know where the little buggers come from, but they’re super annoying, and I wasn’t about to let them get the best of our gorgeous produce.
First up, zucchini pickles. Our garden isn’t exactly overflowing with summer squash, but we had enough in the crisper that I was starting to get concerned. We both love the zucchini pickle spears that come with sandwiches at Jolly Pumpkin, so I figured it was worth giving them a try. I used the Zany Zucchini Pickles recipe from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, which called for a soak and a rinse, another soak in hot brine, a simmer, and then a quick pack and process in the open water bath. The recipe claimed it would yield 6 half pints – instead I got 4 pints and a whole lot of leftover brine. Pickleback, anyone?
Since it was already about 1,000,000 degrees in the house and since the water bath was already boiling, I figured I might as well press on with the peaches. I think it was around this time that I popped open a beer, pinned my bangs back, and gave in to the sweat running down the back of my neck.
To can peaches, you must first peel them. If you’re canning not-quite-ripe peaches, as I was, you’ll find this quite a chore, even with the boiling water then very cold water trick described in this recipe. I forgot the lemon juice, so I’m hoping the peaches don’t brown too much – when you’re working with fruit canned in a hot syrup, acidity should only be an aesthetic issue. I followed the ‘raw pack’ method, meaning that my peaches are in hot syrup but were not themselves hot when canned. By the time the last batch was in the canner, I was disgustingly sweaty, the fruit flies were out in full force, and I’d made two trips to the compost bin with peach pits and skins. I earned that beer, dammit. And I’m looking forward to enjoying the jars of rosy-pink peaches that have already been transferred to the basement shelves.