The Craft Project

The Ectasy and Agony of Blanching Peaches

The grocery store has giant boxes of peaches (20 lbs) in right now for a really good price – so good that it was simply impossible to pass up.  I’ve had my 20 lbs of peaches sitting on my kitchen floor for about the last 5 days trying to find a free moment to start canning them – which I finally found last night, after roller derby practice.

In retrospect this may not have been my most clever moment.  I came home from derby practice completely stoked – it was so much fun to be on my skates again (I’ve been out for about a month due to a dislocated shoulder, and some knee issues), I finally figured out my derby name – Scary Antoinette, we made almost $4000 at our fundraiser for the team on Saturday – the Debutante’s Brawl, and practice was a blast.  When I got home Tyler had made me risotto and squash for dinner, and it was delicious.  So it was happily buzzing that I sat down to can peaches.

For those of you who have canned peaches before you probably know that step one is to blanche them.  For those you of who’ve never tried tackling this before, here’s a quick primer on blanching.  Boil a big pot of water and drop peaches into it.  Boil them for about 30 seconds to a minute (occassionally longer if the next steps are proving too difficult).  Pull them out and drop them into a sink of freezing cold water.  At this point “magic” happens (or at leat this is what canning books, grandmothers and random aunts will lead you to believe) – the skin separates from the peach and you can literally peel it away with hardly any effort.  In theory that’s how it works…and I hate to admit this…but occassionally the theory holds true.  The first time I ever blanched peaches it worked perfectly – I thought it was bar-none the coolest thing on the planet.  Since then, it’s never, ever worked right (at one point leading my poor friend Robin to a near-breakdown in the center of her kitchen).

Last night was no exception to the disappointing trend.  In fact, it was far beyond disappointing – lingering somewhere between total infuriation and sobbing breakdown for most of the process.  Those skins did not easily peel off.  I got them off, but in quite a few cases chunks of peach were coming with them (and I reallly wanted my peaches to look pretty).  Tyler, assessing the expression on my face about 45 minutes into the process, decided that he better try and help.  He made it through two peaches, before he completely threw in the towel (and Tyler is a truly patient man in any normal circumstance) and annouced that I should really just freeze the rest for smoothies.  A suggestion which I aquiesed to about 45 minutes later.  It was so frustrating…but it’s all okay: I have three bags of frozen peaches and about 10 pounds to can waiting patiently in the fridge as I type this (after the blanching fiasco I decided I could wait for the morning for the actual canning) – and come December when I am eating canned peaches in minus forty this will all seem worth it.

Peaches boiling for the first step of the blanching process

Transferring peaches from boiling water to freezing water

Lovely, lovely peaches

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