Canning with Granny Shirley

Despite my 6 year jaunt in New York City and my love of 3-inch high heels, I’m one of those GRITS at heart (for those of you not familiar with this term, it stands for Girl Raised In The South). I learned how to drive a tractor, can shell peas with the best of them, and I grew up on good Southern cooking. I learned most of my culinary skills from my grandma, so now that I’m living closer to home I’m taking advantage of her proximity to learn one of those skills I missed – canning. Come January I’ll be really happy that I learned this skill with stacks of canned fruits and veggies in my pantry!

I recently flipped through an Algonquin backlist book called Dori Sanders’ Country Cooking: Recipes & Stories from the Family Farm Stand which has a recipe for Bourbon-laced Tipsy Chicken with Peaches. With this dish on my mind, I decided peaches would be the perfect fresh produce for my first attempt at canning.

A few of the necessary things in order to complete this project:

  • A bushel of delicious, big peaches (mine were purchased at a small farm in Charleston)
  • Canning stuff (pressure cooker, jars, lids, etc.)
  • The guidance of  Granny Shirley (my grandmother, for those of you who are not an acquaintance of Granny Shirley)
  • The assistance of sous chef Mom (it’s very important to have a sous chef to do those time-consuming tasks like peeling a bushel of scalding hot peaches)

While I thought it took an army and a lot of sweat to can a bushel of peaches, it actually only takes a few Southern women (preferably one who has the necessary canning knowledge) and a few hours of your time. Rather than detailing the entire process for you, dear readers, a shortened version with pictures is below. If you want to know all the details, you’ll have to consult Granny Shirley or buy a copy of PUT ‘EM UP from our sister imprint Storey.

Sterilize your jars and lids with scalding water.

Place whole peaches in boiling water for 1 minute so the skins can loosen up. Remove from the pot and have other people peel and cut them into slices for you (hence the need for sous chef Mom).

Tightly pack peaches into the jars, squish them down, and then pack in more. Seriously, you can put a lot more peach slices in a jar than you think.

Pour hot sugar water on top of the peaches to fill in the extra space in the jar.

Do what Granny Shirley calls “burping the jars”…you have to make sure all the air bubbles in the jar are filled up with the sugar water so that it seals right and doesn’t turn gross.

Clean off the jars and seal them with a lid and ring.

Put jars in the pressure cooker, which is filled with hot water, and seal with the presser cooker lid. The gauge needs to go up 10 pounds of pressure for 5 minutes and then you have to remove the pot from heat and let it naturally cool down without removing the pressure cooker lid. This part takes forever!

Remove the peaches from the cooker and listen for the lids to “pop”, or concave in the middle, within 15-20 minutes. This means they’ve sealed correctly. Make sure you take off the rings and clean the entire outside of the jar to avoid rust, then add rings back on. Finally, spend at least 5 minutes admiring your beautiful rows of canned peaches!

Using my newly canned peaches, I tried out the delicious recipe from Dori Sander’s Country Cooking for bourbon-laced tipsy chicken with peaches, which I’ve added below for you to also try out.

A big thanks to Granny Shirley and Mom, without whom this project wouldn’t have been possible!

Brought to you with no commercial interruptions by Kelly, Senior Publicist with Algonquin Books, and Granny Shirley, a huge Algonquin supporter and the Grand Dame of Canning.

Bourbon-Laced Tipsy Chicken with Peaches

4 chicken leg quarters (thigh attached)

½ tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. pepper

2 tbsp. butter

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 tsp. paprika

1 1/2 cups green onions, chopped (about 6 green onions, including green part)

½ cup orange juice

2 tbsp. bourbon

1 cup peaches, chopped (about 2 medium peaches)

A dash of nutmeg

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Sprinkle the chicken quarters with salt and pepper. Place in a 13” x 9” baking pan and set aside.
  3. In a medium skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the paprika and all but 1 tbsp. of the green onions, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for an additional 4 minutes.
  4. Spread the onion mixture evenly over the chicken, spoon the orange juice and bourbon over the top, and bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, turning and basting occasionally.
  5. Remove the chicken from the oven, spoon the peaches over the top, sprinkle with nutmeg, and return to the oven for an additional 15-20 minutes or until the chicken is tender and shows no trace of pink near the bone.
  6. Remove the chicken from the pan, place on a serving dish, and pour the pan juices over the chicken. Garnish with the remaining green onions and serve immediately.

4 Comments On This Post:

August 11, 2010
12:23 pm
Megan says...

This is so cute! Wish I could’ve joined y’all!

August 11, 2010
12:54 pm
Erin says...

Love the apron 🙂

August 11, 2010
6:23 pm
Lisa Carter says...

I am so impressed!!!!! And I REALLY need a jar of those peaches! I know that they are good if Granny Shirley was involved! Let me know when you are cooking the Chicken recipe again and give me the directions to your place in NC and I will follow the scent!

August 11, 2010
7:52 pm
Sous chef Mom says...

Maybe next time I’ll get to wear the cute apron!

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