Thursday, September 16, 2010

Can Jam September: Honeyed Peaches with Mint

Even though this was the September canning challenge, I canned these peaches at the tail end of August, when I was leading one of my monthly canning demos at the Ann Arbor Farmer's Market, who graciously host me under a tent if it is crowded or under the awning if it is not.  Everything I know about peaches can be found in this blog post I wrote last year.   Michigan is the nation's 3rd largest producer of fresh peaches, after California and Georgia.  I know it seems odd that we could grow peaches here up north so prolifically, but the west side of my state has some unique climate given the effects of Lake Michigan.  

However, what I learned this year while canning peaches outdoors for the first time is that bees are really active in late August, and they love honey! Perhaps I should have known this, but right after I started canning at the market, the bees arrived, and they wouldn't stop.   It was like a scene out of The Birds.....

...except instead if "birds" it was "bees" and instead of Tippi Hendren in a smart suit, it was me in a canning apron and rubber gloves.    The good news is that I didn't get stung!  I abandoned my tent at the market and finished these beauties at home.   The even better news about this recipe is that honey is lovely with peaches.   I tucked a mint leaf or two in each jar and it really made the peaches taste fresh.  

Honeyed Peaches with Mint

Makes about 8 pints

8-12 lbs peaches, peeled, halved, pitted, treated with Fruit Fresh to prevent browning, and drained.
1 batch hot honey syrup

To make hot honey syrup:
1 c. honey
1 c. white sugar
4 c water

Bring to a boil over medium high heat just until sugar is dissolved, keep warm until needed.

To hot pack peaches, warm peach halves one layer at a time in hot syrup for 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, pack cavity side down in jars leaving a 1/2 inch headspace. Ladle hot syrup in jar to cover peaches. Remove any air bubbles with a chop stick or cocktail stirrer, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Add a couple mint leaves, if desired. Place lids on jar, adjusting until bands are finger tight. Process in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes.

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