Summer in a Jar

Project: Peach Jam
CHW Rating: Easy as Sunday Morning

It’s December 1 and snowy in Denver. It’s as if someone flipped a switch and the season turned to winter just as the calendar page turned. Yesterday was almost summer at 60 degrees. Today we’ll get 4-6″ of snow.

Start with peaches. A lot of peaches.

Days like this make me want to dig in and craft, decorate for the holidays, write greeting cards—and think about summer.

One of my favorite things about summer are the Palisade Peaches, from the Western Slope of Colorado. They invade the Front Range mid-August through September. For me, they can’t last long enough and, like summer, are gone too soon. Since it’s a long way until the dog days of summer, I bring you summer in a jar, otherwise known as my experiment with canning.

Note: I know that I’m not the first to blog about canning peaches. But if you’re like me, you may have thought it was harder than it really is. So this is for all of you desk jockies out there who always wanted to try canning.

Add sugar. About 4 cups worth.

I found a recipe on the Interwebs and if I track it down again I’ll post it. It was tres simple. 5 1/2 pounds of peaches, 4 cups of sugar, lemon juice. And time. And water. And jars.

Slice the peaches with the skin on, then gently toss in the sugar. Cover and let sit out for 4 hours or overnight in the fridge. After the peaches are all gooie, bring them to a boil until they start to break up and the mixture thickens. There’s a sweet spot of time that they need to boil and after you pass that spot, the mixture won’t set. So watch the clock and the pot to make sure you don’t mess it up. The upside is that you’d have a bowl full of ice cream topping if you do mess it up. Or you could save the mixture by re-boiling it and adding pectin. Your call.

Let the peaches sit, covered, in the fridge overnight. Make yummy, sugary goodness.

Then you just scoop the mixture into clean jars, give them a quick bath (for about 15 minutes) in boiling water to help seal the jars. I boiled the lids for 5 minutes prior to canning to help goo up the seal. I also found this awesome Ball canning funnel that made the job go hella fast. The best part is that it’s collapsible, an important feature in space-challenged kitchen.

The recipe said it would make 8 1/2 pint jars. I could only find pint jars at the store and ended up with 5 pints with a 1/2″ gap at the top of each jar. Three jars are in my cupboard, one in my fridge ready for winter and the fifth went to my BFF.

So far all of them are still sealed. It was doubtful at first, a few of them didn’t seem to suck in the seal. But once they cooled they were firmly sealed. I look forward to hearing that distinctive “pop” of opening a can mid-winter. It’s the next best thing to summer.

Finished product ready for winter.

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