Vanilla Bean Infused Peach Slices #fijchallenge #CanItForward

Just shortly after I returned from Ireland a friend let me in on a little secret: There were some excellent blueberries to be had in town and if I was lucky the person selling them may just have some plump Georgia pecans too. Unfortunately by the time I managed to get out the door the pecans were all gone, but I lucked out and in addition to my blueberries I was able to bring home a bushel of over-ripe Georgia peaches for half off. Never one to pass up a deal, especially on peaches, I happily handed over my hard earned money and spent the next few days finding creative ways to preserve them.

And then I ran out of steam... What was I thinking buying 48 pounds of peaches?

After making two cases of pie filling in a variety of flavors and playing around with a new flavor of peach applesauce I decided to cut my creative endeavors short. Everything I had left got sliced up and preserved with a vanilla bean infused syrup, which just may be one of the simplest ways to preserve peaches. 

Vanilla Bean Infused Peach Slices | Not Starving Yet

Vanilla Bean Infused Peaches


makes 9 pints


Ingredients

6½ cups water
¾ cup sugar
4½ vanilla beans, cut in half and sliced down the center (see notes)
11 pounds yellow peaches
Lots of ice, to help with peeling

Directions

  • Before beginning, sterilize your jars and rings in the dishwasher. As per the new canning guidelines lids no longer need to be sterilized if they'll be in the water bath for more than 10 minutes.
  • Prepare a light syrup made of water and sugar in a large saucepan, bring the mixture to a boil, and stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the vanilla beans to the hot syrup, turn off the heat, and allow the vanilla beans to infuse while you peel your peaches.
  • Dip the peaches in a large pot of boiling water for 30 - 60 seconds, or until the skins start to loosen. Quickly drop the peaches in a bowl of ice water and slip the skins off. Cut the peaches in half, remove the pit, then slice into equal-sized pieces. 
  • Add the peach slices to the sugar syrup and bring to a boil. Fill your sterilized jars with fruit and a slice of vanilla bean. Once the jars are full add syrup, making sure to leave ½ inch headspace at the top of the jar. 
  • Tap the jars gently to remove any air bubbles that may have become trapped, wipe the rims of the jars to remove any access syrup, then add a new canning lid. Make sure to tighten the ring securely before placing the jars in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes (pint jars) or 25 minutes (quart jars.)
  • Remove the jars from the water bath and set them on a dish towel to cool. After the jars have cooled completely check the seals and refrigerate any jars that do not have a good seal.

Notes

I have occasionally run out of syrup when canning peaches, but it's easy to make more as needed without making up a full batch of syrup. 1 cup of water, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and ½ a vanilla bean is usually enough to fill the last jar should you run out. Any extra syrup can be refrigerated and used later, as long as you remember to bring the refrigerated syrup to a full boil.

If you want to put up a large amount of peaches I suggest trying to find the freestone variety, the pits practically fall out when you cut the peaches in half which saves a surprising amount of time. 

Vanilla Bean Peach Applesauce + Canning Instructions #Unprocessed

It's that time of year again, you know the one I'm talking about—no, not pumpkin spice everything season—canning season is officially coming to an end. We've already had our first frost, so I stopped by the orchard to pick up the last batch of apples for the year. I know I've already posted recipes for Easy Crock-Pot Applesauce, Strawberry Applesauce and Spiced Blueberry Applesauce—now it's time to try it with peaches.

It just so happens that I have a freezer full of them left over from making Sweet Cherry and Peach Preserves a few months ago.

Now I realize that not everyone has excess peaches on their hands, so feel free to pick up frozen peaches at the market the next time you're there if you're tempted to try this recipe. Trust me you won't regret it. Personally I'm glad I saved so many, it means that I'll be able to enjoy a small taste of summer when it's -30°F outside and I'm regretting the decision to move to Wisconsin. Well, unless my little man decides to eat all the applesauce before spring rolls around—he does like to eat applesauce like it's going out of style.

Vanilla Bean Peach Applesauce + Canning Instructions | Not Starving Yet

Easy Crock-Pot Vanilla Bean Peach Applesauce
makes roughly 8 half pints or 4 pints

Ingredients

8 large sized apples, any variety
12 - 16 ounces peaches, fresh or frozen
1 Vanilla Bean
2 Tablespoons lemon juice

Equipment

Apple peeler/corer/slicer
potato masher
water-bath canner or stock pot with lifter
8 - 10 half pint canning jars with lids and rings
jar grabber
magnetic lid lifter
funnel
butter knife
ladle
clean dish towels and cloths 

Directions

  • Thoroughly wash all fruit before beginning. Cut away any brown areas, peel the apples and peaches, then cover with lemon juice to prevent browning.

Thinner apples will cook much faster. This is where an apple peeler/corer/slicer comes in handy—it will also cut your time peeling apples in half. Beg or borrow one if you can, you won't regret it.

  • Open vanilla bean pod with a knife and scrape the insides into the applesauce. Once insides are removed, toss the entire pod in with the other ingredients. Cook on high for 3 - 4 hours, or until the fruit mashes easily. 

While waiting for applesauce to cook, sterilize your canning jars, rings, potato masher, and any other equipment that will come into contact with the applesauce. You can do this easily by putting everything in the dishwasher and running it. Just don't put your equipment in with dirty dishes.

  • While your jars are sterilizing fill your stock pot with water and let it boil. Keep in mind that it takes awhile for a large pot of water to boil. You don't want to fill your jars before your water is ready.
  • Place a sauce pan on the stove, add your canning lids, and fill pan with several inches of water. Bring the water to a simmer and allow the sealing wax on the lids to soften for several minutes.
  • Fill sterilized jars with hot applesauce leaving 1/2 inch head space at the top. Remove air bubbles with a knife, wipe the rims with a clean damp rag, place lids on top and fasten ring until fingertip tight.

Waterbath Canning

  • Place sealed jars on a rack in the canner or stock pot. Make sure jars are covered with water and that the waterline is about an inch over the top of the jars, then cover pot with lid.

You do not want the jars coming into contact with the bottom of the canner or stock pot because they will bounce around and likely break.

  • Process half pints and pints for 15 minutes, quarts for 20 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Time starts once the water has come to a complete boil again. You may need to add boiling water to keep the water level up as the jars are processing.
  • Remove jars from canner, set on a clean dish towel and let them rest for several hours until cool. You should hear a popping sound as the lids seal. 
  • To check the seals of your jars wait until they have cooled and press the center gently with your finger. If it moves up and down the jar is not sealed. You can either reprocess using a new lid never reuse an old lid or eat the applesauce. 
  • Label with detailed contents and date, then store in a cool, dark, and dry place.

Other Notes

Make sure to experiment with the flavors different types of apples will produce. I used organic Galla apples for this batch because they were on sale at whole foods, but many varieties make a good sauce.