Friday, July 19, 2013


I love to preserve food and while I know you might roll your eyes when I say this: It's really not all that complicated once you get the hang of it. In a perfect world, you'd grow your own food, pull it from the earth, toss it into a mason jar with a few simple ingredients, process the jars, then store the food for years and years to come. If you don't have the space, time or interest to grow your own food, buy organic at the peak of the season and then grab your favorite canning recipe and a glass of wine and have at it. It's actually a lot of fun.

In addition to the benefit of storing high quality food for practically forever (always a good thing should the world come to an abrupt halt), canned food makes nice gifts, especially when you attach pretty tags and labels. And while it may take a while to complete a canning recipe, you tend to preserve food in large batches so your output is often quite large making the investment of time worth it.

All that said, I think I can and preserve food because I am romanced by the thought of recreating the recipes my Irish grandmother made on her Iowa farm. She married a German farmer and made her own cheese, bread, and jams - and believe me, they were delicious, vibrant and fresh. Who needs a grocery store when there's corn growing in the backyard and blackberry jam that practically cans itself straight from the bush.

I once stood in my friend's garden just outside of Zurich, Switzerland and watched in awe as she unwrapped cheesecloth from the plums hanging on her plum tree. She took the yeast collected on the cheesecloth from the "plum sweat" and baked a loaf of bread with it. Now tell me. How cool is that?!

Here's a simple canning recipe with easy ingredients to get you started: 

Spiced Peaches - makes 5 quarts

5 1/4 cups water
2 1/4 cups organic sugar
12 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks (about 4-inches long)
8-10 pounds ripe peaches
ascorbic-acid color keeper (follow the directions on the package)

Step 1 - Make the syrup: Start by making a syrup in a 4- to 6-quart heavy pot. Combine all of the ingredients - except the peaches and the ascorbic-acid - bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool for 30 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove and discard cinnamon sticks. Remove the cloves or leave them in. Set the syrup aside.

Step 2 - Skin the peaches: Bring a large saucepan of water to boiling. Fill a large bowl with ice water. Carefully lower two or three peaches into the boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, scoop the peaches from the boiling water into the ice water. When the peaches are cool enough to hold them in your hands, remove and discard the skins. Repeat this step until all the peaches are skinned.

Step 3 - Prevent discoloration: Cut the peaches in half then slice into pretty slices, removing and discarding the pits. To prevent discoloration, place the peaches into the ascorbic-acid following the directions on the ascorbic-acid package. Pack the peach slices into hot, sterilized quart canning jars, leaving a 1/2-inch headspace.

Step 4 - Pour the syrup over the peaches: Return the syrup to a boil. Ladle hot syrup into the jars on top of the peaches but maintaining that 1/2-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe the jar rims, adjust the lids to prepare for processing.

Step 5 - Process the jars: Process filled jars in a boiling-water canner for 25 minutes (start the timing when the water returns to a full boil). Remove jars from the canner. Cool on wire racks for 24 hours, confirming that the lids have "popped" and a proper seal has been made.


JULIE VALERIE, book blogger and writer, blogs about books and writing on "Julie Valerie's Book Blog" sub-titled Chick Lit Chit Chat where she specializes in contemporary women's fiction with a strong emphasis on modern chick lit and it's many sub-genres. Julie especially enjoys reading and writing in the humorous mommy lit genre.

Through her blog and social media marketing, Julie supports fellow writers by posting cover reveals, excerpts and interviews and she dedicates an entire page on her blog to new book releases and another to a listing of modern chick lit authors.

Find Julie Valerie Online:

In celebration of In Need of Therapy's one-year anniversary and the book's Cuban heroine, enter to win a copy of the cookbook Celebrate Cuban - 100 Great Recipes for Cuban Entertaining by Three Guys From Miami. You can enter up to 6 times using the Rafflecopter widget below. The giveaway will end at midnight on Wednesday, July 31st, and a winner will be announced on Thursday, August 1st. This contest is open to residents of the USA only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Growing up, I loved the homemade bread and canned jellies and jams my paternal grandmother used to make on her farm. I got my love of hand- quilting from my maternal great-great-grandmother. Go grandmas!

    Thank you so very much for hosting me on your blog, today, Tracie. I wish I could crash my hand through your computer screen and hand you a can of my spiced peaches. They're great over ice cream or warmed gently over a block of brie.


  2. P.S. Just thought I'd add - that in the photo of me above wearing the sunglasses and purple shirt - I'm actually smashing grapes at a friend's vineyard in CA (Uptick Vineyards).

    Making wine's a lot like canning, yes?

  3. Wow! You must come and visit and educate me, Julie! As for the peaches ~ I'm so totally on it! Yum. Where's the vanilla ice cream?? Thank for a great recipe!

  4. This brings back memories of my grandmother. She used to have walls of canned foods in her cellar.

  5. Okay, Nicky. Canning party at my house. I'll provide all the ingredients, equipment and complete instructions - you bring a bottle of wine, an appetizer and all of your writer friends.

    Janine - I'm with you. I don't want memories and traditions of past generations to lay quiet. That's why I do food preservation and hand-quilt. To connect me with my grandmas who are no longer with me.

    Thanks, Nicky and Janine, for checking in on my Spiced Peaches guest blog post - and thanks to Tracie for hosting me!!

    1. DEAL! I'll bring SEVERAL bottles of wine, a truckload of nibbles and a group of friends, as well as plenty of time. Because ... you know... might as well learn properly and take my time over it. XX :-)

  6. Those look delicious! My mom, who grew up on a farm, used to can stuff. I've never tried. We had a ton of white peaches on our tree (so good!) but I just took the easy route and froze them. They make fabulous sorbet and peach margs!

  7. Hi Jackie! You've sooooo gotta try canning. It's a blast. If you get a few good recipes (i.e a chutney or salsa) - you can give them out at the holidays wrapped with pretty little tags. I make a chianti honey that's to die for - and it's so simple! :)

  8. YUM! Those peaches look so delicious! Thanks for the recipe, Julie. :)

    1. Thanks, Cat! Even when peaches are out of season - I can open the jar and make a cobbler lickety split. So fun!