Saturday, August 4, 2012

Peach Honey? Yes, please!

In my last post, I listed all the different ways with which I have experience canning, and I gave you a recipe for "hot jar canning," my grandma's salsa. (Side note 1: If you're thinking, "She can't seriously be doing another canning post," um sorry?) (Side note 2: After I wrote that post, I cracked open the first jar of salsa, and now, approximately 26 hours later as I write this post, it is gone. I have condiment dependency.)

In this post, I'll tell you more about "water bath canning." This requires one more piece of equipment. Because you'll be sealing your jars in the stock pot, you will need a rack, so that the jars are not sitting on the bottom of the pot. The most common type is pictured below, but it's not without its problems. (See confession.)


(Confession: I bought a canner just like this six years ago, and my spacial-relations-challenged self still cannot figure out how the rack works. I eventually found a new rack at an antique store that is much more user-friendly. If you know how to operate the above-pictured piece of equipment, you should join Mensa. And then you should tell me how to use it. And then you should eschew calling me an idiot.)

Now I have a fancy pressure canner that can double as a water bath canner, complete with its own uncomplicated rack.

What you'll need: 
Water bath canning is a very common way to process jam, as it doesn't need much time to cook and seal (usually under 20 minutes). If you are planning to can something like spaghetti sauce or deer sausage, you should probably invest in a pressure canner, as they might take hours in a water bath.

Today we will be making and canning Florida Peach Honey. Um...? Yum!

This is a new recipe for me. My mom told me about it in Florida and then sent me on my way home with a box full of Florida peaches. (Georgia, what? Georgia, who?) While peach honey can't replicate bee vomit (what can?), it is a delightful alternative.

I researched it on the internet a bit and have combined my mom's tips with an adaptation of this Paula Deen recipe. Enjoy!

Florida Peach Honey

Ingredients:
1 lemon, seeded (but keep the rind and the pith)
20 Florida peaches
8 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Throw the lemon parts in the food processor and pulse until it is mush. The lemon adds pectin, a gelling agent. 


2. Peel, pit, and chop the peaches. (Tip on peeling: score the peaches with a knife and place in a pot of simmering water for about 60 seconds, then immediately move to a bowl of ice water. The skin should peel off faster than Ryan Lochte peels off his speedo when he comes to my house. Barely.)
  

Three bald peaches. I guess they don't need Larry's hairbrush anymore. 


3. Toss them in the food processor as well. Pulse, grind, puree, blend until smooth.
4. Pour peach liquid into a large pot. Stir in sugar and vanilla.

5. Put the stove on high and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring (nearly) continuously. You
don't want it to stick to the bottom.
6. Once it comes to a boil, turn the heat to medium-low and cook for another 90-120 minutes, stirring occasionally. It should be thick like honey and a beautiful shade of mahogany.


For the canning:
While the peach honey cooks, get your canning stuff prepped. For a water bath, this means:

1. Fill your stock pot with water, such that the jars will be covered when you put them in. You might need to do two levels of jars (which is fine), but it just means you'll need more water. Bring water to a boil.

2. Have your supplies at the ready. The jars and lids do not need to be hot, just clean.


3. Fill the jars with the hot honey, wipe the rim clean, place a clean lid on top, and tightly screw on a ring. Place the jar in the boiling water using the jar grabber.


4. Repeat until you have used up all the honey.


5. Put a lid on the stock pot and let it boil lightly (or simmer) for 12 minutes.

6. Remove the jars from the pot. You might or might not hear the mellifluous "POP!" of the lids. Don't panic! They could have popped in the water bath.

7. Let the jars hang out on the counter until they are cool. Check to make sure all the lids sealed. If one didn't seal, you can try to re-can it or just put it in the refrigerator and eat it within a few weeks.

So now that you have peach honey, get creative! I've only had it on toast (and out of the jar with a spoon, obvi), but I'm thinking chicken glaze, pork glaze, ice cream topping, barbecue sauce, oatmeal mix-in, honey mustard, pancake topping, bellinis, someone please stop me, peanut butter and banana sandwiches, marinades, white sangria, smoothies, baked brie, thumbprint cookies.