Posted by: Aunt Magaidh | August 31, 2009

Canning peaches

I just got a big lesson.  Yesterday, I finally canned peaches!  I had somehow thought that canning fruit was more difficult than making jam.   What a goof!

For years I’ve made jam:  Ollallieberry, strawberry, peach, plum, mixed fruit, mango, and tomato.    I’ve worked with pectin and failed with pectin.  I’ve made jelly from scratch, using crab apples.  Why did I think canning fruit was a big deal?  I think I was afraid of the bubbles that supposedly get stuck on the sides.  I think I was afraid that hot processing would fail and botulism would set in.  Why is it that I’ve been so afraid to trust all the old fashioned recipes?  I’ve decided it was a lack of faith in the cookbooks I’ve read over the years.  I didn’t have an aunt or grandmother to teach me this arcane art.

In fact, I’m part of generation that hasn’t typically been taught any of these disappearing culinary arts because it’s so much easier to go to the store and pick up a jar of spread for your toast.  My childhood sandwiches were graced with jars of Smuckers strawberry or blackberry or pineapple apricot.  There was no picking over of fruit, no washing and blanching and skinning, no slicing and measuring.   There was no gathering of women to create by communal labor a rainbow of  summer tastes in glass jars.

But I was lucky to marry a man who came from a long line of  old fashioned domestic goddesses.  My mother-in-law, Jo, showed me to make her revered blackberry jam about 17 years ago.  I went on to strawberry and other fruit preserves within weeks of that singular lesson.

But it was my aunt-in-law, Millie, who just this week finally convinced me I had been silly to avoid straight fruit canning by just telling me it was easier than jam.  A simple offhand comment as she was signing off from a quick chat.  Sometimes all it takes is a few short, simple words to change the way you look at something.  And that is the big lesson of yesterday.

So here I am the proud canner of peaches.  O’ Henry peaches with cinnamon and basil.  And I’m looking forward to teaching my daughter and nieces just how simple the art of canning is and how easy it is to change the way we look at things.



  1. It’s all about the art of patience, isn’t it? I learned from my Grandma. I resented it back then, being “forced” to go to the farms and pick fruit, then the whole process of putting them up…but now I appreciate the art of it…and the simple pleasure of looking at the jars of something I made. Enjoy the simple pleasures and yes, teach it to your children…all of them 🙂

  2. I still miss the ‘simple pleasures’ of going into our own back yard and picking all the fruit to can and dry…. and the gathering and cracking [from the woods around near by] all the great pecans, black walnuts and hickory nuts. I grew up using those in everything and was shocked when I got to college and had to go to grocery stores… and saw what prices they were charging for the things we always just had out the back door or… down to the country to the relatives’ for all the other berries and fruits.
    We just did a small batch of apricot marmalade the other day… a neighbor was letting their entire tree’s crop hit the ground and lay there so we asked for a few of the good ones left. This year’s crop were very small and not massively tasty but it was going to be doing our own canning again.
    Keep it up. We need to teach others how to live from more than “safe?way”.

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