Grandma Marie Hammond's Peach Conserve Recipe

6 quart basket of peaches (the kind with the loose pits are best) skinned and sliced 3 oranges sliced thin including rinds equal quantity of sugar as fruit (by volume) 1/2 lb walnuts (or toasted almonds) 1 cup sultana raisins, soaked in warm water for 30 minutes (I think a dark spiced rum would be better) 1 bottle maraschino cherries One batch (18c of fruit) makes about 9 pints of conserve, have plenty of mason jars on hand. To skin the peaches, first boil them for about a minute or less, then put them into a cold water bath. This should loosen the skins. Put peaches, oranges and sugar into a largish pot and boil. Once it's stabilized at a good boil, leave it for about 2 hours to thicken. Monitor and stir regularly to prevent from boiling over (which makes a huge mess) or burning to the bottom of the pot. While waiting for conserve to thicken, prepare jars by sterilizing them in clean boiling water. Arrange on a cookie sheet for filling. My Mom always put a fork into the jars "to keep them from breaking due to the heat", so I do it too, although I'm not sure how it achieves this. The forks do help settle this rather lumpy preserve into the jars though. When syrup sheets from the edge a spoon, it's ready. Add in nuts, raisins and cherries, and bring it back up to a boil for maybe a minute or two then remove from heat and scoop into jars. Mom likes to use a coffee mug for this job. Immediately cap the jars and turn them upside-down to sterilize the air in the head of the jar and encourage a tight seal with the rubber gasket. Once jars have cooled enough to handle with bare hands, wash them with hot soapy water to clean off any residue and set them back upright. If you plan to be storing the conserve for extended periods, then you might want to process it using a canner. This is pretty simple. Instead of inverting, cap the jars, and screw the cap holders down to a loose finger tight. Then submerge them in a bath of boiling water for about 20 minutes. When they come out, you'll hear the distinctive pop as the lids vacuum seal. Once they're cool enough to handle, you can remove the cap holders and clean the threads as necessary. Store in a cool dark place. The cap holders should be no more than finger tight (otherwise you risk damaging the rubber seal).


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