Harvest time is here and the food is coming from the gardens and orchards all over. Since we are only in a temporary location we don't have an orchard yet. However a good friend of ours has been helping us get produce from gleaning. Gleaning is a great way to get really great food for less. Check out your local farms to see what gleaning opportunities you might have. Every year we always get several boxes of peaches to put up for those cold long winter months. We really enjoy canned peaches.
Not Exactly my Specialty...
Water Bath Canning hasn't been my specialty. Growing up, I can remember all the glass jars we broke trying to preserve food in them. So I was a little nervous about trying it myself. I've become comfortable with pressure canning since I've been doing beans that way all summer, but the water bath seemed a little intimidating. But here were a few tips that really helped me. If I carefully followed these, then I didn't have any trouble with water bath canning.
Tips to keep jars from breaking:
1. If you are going to do a cold pack (putting the fruit or food item into the jar cold) then you need to somehow warm up the jar. What I did with my peaches is put the fruit in the jar, fresh, then heated up the juice that I poured over them to warm it up just a touch. I don't want to overcook the peaches, because then they are too soft.
2. Before I place the jars into the canner, I turn off the burner (or remove it from the hot place on the wood cook stove) and wait till the water quits boiling. At that point I can safely place the mildly warm jars into the hot water without loosing my jars and the precious fruit inside.
Between those two things, I didn't loose one single jar through the canning process. And by the end of canning my peaches, I felt a lot more confident canning using the water bath method.
One of the most helpful resources for canning is the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving. Get that for detailed instructions on water bath canning!