Being a regular canner jam maker for the last two years, you would think I’m deft at the whole water bath canning process. Yesterday I made a batch of preserved peaches in Amaretto spiked Tahitian vanilla syrup which ought to be rather simple. I thought so too until I had not one, but two glaring mishaps that left me scrambling. My butt was kicked mercilessly by these peaches.
I love freestone peaches. Just twisting the peaches open to pry out the pit is a satisfying experience much like popping bubble wrap. Early season varieties are typically clingstone and it’s not unusual that you find me quizzing the farmers when the freestone arrives. Can you believe it’s already the last few days of August? Pretty soon, even the freestone peaches will disappear until next year. It is hard not to feel a little sad even though I’m not a fan of oppressive summer heat. Preserving this last bit of summer was what I tried to do yesterday.
I have some pretty bad luck with my case of 500mL mason jars. A few of them cracked when I took them for a picnic as food containers. Since then, I was rather skeptical about them. After 10 minutes of sterilization, one actually buckled with a crack that ran down the entire height of the jar. I was annoyed to say the least but glad that it was caught before I started filling the jar with peaches.
My afternoon dragged on with more boiling of jars. The kitchen was getting warm and I was sweating profusely next to the stove. There I thought canning peaches should be a breeze! I carefully packed in the fruit to ensure I wouldn’t end up with a half-filled jar of floating peach slices. In hindsight, I was probably a bit too eager to pack them in. I thought for sure I left 1cm head space as directed.
When I lifted the amber jars from the water bath after 30 minutes of rolling boil, I was in dismay. What I saw were large pockets of air bubbles where there was none. That could only mean one thing. The syrup leaked during the canning process because I overfilled. How could I commit such a rookie mistake?
On the bright side, I only preserved three 500mL jars. I stored my disappointments in the fridge and they barely take up any precious real estate. There they will remain until the flavour fully develops. It’s too bad that my peach canning afternoon did not go well but not all is lost. I will still get to enjoy these peaches, just not in the dead of winter.
Sorry Sarah for letting you down. Your directions were great. It wasn’t you, it was me.