Now that Autumn is biting at my heels, I have to admit I am beginning to hit the wall when it comes to canning. This is the thing when you live in an area that is famed for orchards, blue skies and sunshine: everything just keeps growing, and growing and growing.
Actually, what hasn't kept growing this year are the tomatoes. After such a wet and cold May, and a blech summer, the tomatoes never quite took off. Last year I was able to get 100 pounds out of my garden. This year? 20 pounds if I was lucky. And my best producer, Black Krim, is such a rich, buttery delight that it's a shame to can it.
Don't get me wrong, I canned whatever wasn't eaten right away, but it was a shame.
Since I am late in posting my stone fruit canned creation, I thought I would highlight some of the recipes that I've been drooling over the past several weeks!
There were plenty of plums: A plum noir jam from Tigress in a Jam, sugar plum crumble preserves (OMG!) from Hip Girl's Guide to Homemaking, plum and blueberry compote in calvados syrup from Laundry, etc. and garlic plum sauce from Locally Preserved.
And then there were the peaches. Plenty of juicy, plump peaches. Peach-plum and ginger jam from Food in Jars, a solid peach preserve from Market Life SF, preserved peach slices with maderia from Well Preserved, and peach preserves with brown sugar and spiced rum from Cafe Libby (can't you just feel the peach's drunken delight?). OH! And peach barbecue sauce from The Kitchenette, and roasted hatch peach salsa from Stetted. Don't make me go on. It's painful.
All of these delightful sweet treats have made my brandied peach preserves feel somewhat bland, mainly because I took the recipe directly from Well Preserved, 3rd Edition (remember what I said about hitting a wall?). But the results are delightful and I plan to impress guests with ice cream covered in brandied peaches during the winter months when people can only dream of local peaches.
Brandied Peach Preserves
(makes three pint jars of preserves)
8 cups peaches, blanched and sliced
6 cups sugar
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup brandy
Note: this recipe takes 3 days, so plan ahead.
Day 1: layer peaches and sugar in your preserving pot; cover and refrigerate overnight.
Day 2: bring the mixture to a boil over low heat, stirring occasionally and gently until sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to medium for 10 minutes, stirring gently to prevent scorching. Remove from heat, stir in lemon juice. Pour into a 9×13 (or larger) shallow, glass pan and let stand until cool. Cover loosely with a dish towel and refrigerate overnight.
Day 3: Prepare preserving jars. Transfer peach mixture back to a preserving pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil rapidly for 15 minutes, until the syrup has thickened slightly and peaches appear translucent. Remove from heat, skim off foam, add brandy and stir for 5 minutes (this prevents peaches from floating).
Once you've removed the saucepan from the heat, stir and skim off any foam, if necessary.
Pour jam into hot, sterilized jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space.
Use a butter knife or similar to run along the sides of the jar, removing air bubbles.
Wipe rim, center lid on jar, and add screw band to fingertip tight.
Process in a canner bath for 10 minutes at sea level, more depending on altitude or larger size of jar.
Remove canner lid and let jars rest for 5 minutes before removing from the water.
Lift the jars out of the water and let them cool without touching or bumping them. Cool overnight. Once the jars have cooled, ensure they are sealed. Press down gently in the center of the lid. If it pops up and down (often making a popping sound), it is not sealed. Put the jar in the refrigerator and enjoy it for the next 3 – 4 weeks. If the lid remains taut, you've got a good seal.
This recipe is taken directly from Well Preserved, 3rd edition.