Six quarts of pure, silky peach juice from a basketful (about 17 lbs) of sliced wind-fall peaches. I paid $.80/lb for these wind-fall peaches. Before cleaning, paring, and slicing I had about 20 lbs of peaches. So, that’s about $2.65 per quart of juice!
I went out to get some peaches at Detering’s Orchard the other day and did some processing. They were reluctant to let me pick the wind-fall fruit (fruit from the ground under the tree) because people had been taking advantage of their good will and picking fruit from the trees and calling it wind fall. That is too bad. I don’t understand the need to cheat a farmer.
However, since I am a long-time customer and have been picking wind-fall fruit for years, the manager let me go in and get one last batch of perfectly good fruit from off the ground. They have a new owner and there are efforts underway to streamline the management of the stand, and I can appreciate their desire to plug that hole. I’m glad that the orchard will continue on as it has for many decades. It is a true regional treasure.
Below are some straightforward instructions on processing peaches in the Mehu-Liisa steam juicer from Finland.
The first thing to do is fill the water pan and set it to boil on the stove while you prepare the fruit. All that is needed is a steady boil. A furious boil increases the risk of boiling the water pan dry and damaging it. This is a real time saver if you are going to need to do a lot of paring of the fruit like I did. I chose to cut out the bruises and slice the flesh off the pits. It isn’t necessary to remove the pits.
Once the peaches are in the Mehu-Liisa steamer basket–it’s OK to pile them high as in the picture, they will reduce–set the basket in the kettle and then both on the water pan.
I highly recommend using a timer to avoid boiling your water pan dry. I set mine to 30 min and check the juice level and water level when the alarm goes off. I won’t steam process past 45 minutes, so if the water level is above half full at 30 minutes I don’t add anymore water.
In the case of very juicy fruit like blueberries and grapes, I check the juice level in the kettle as well and draw off a quart to keep the juice from flowing over the steam funnel into the water pan below.
At this point, I also boil my canning jar lids and rings for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, I take the pan off the heat and set it aside, leaving the lids and rings still in the water. This keeps them sanitized.
Fruit and juice levels in the Mehu-Liisa steam juicer after 15 minutes of processing.
Fruit and juice levels in the Mehu-Liisa steam juicer after 30 minutes of processing.
Fruit and juice levels in the Mehu-Liisa steam juicer after 45 minutes of processing over a steady boil. As you can see, peaches don’t reduce all that much during processing. But, it’s another story if you leave the spent fruit in the juicer for an hour or so.
At this point, I turn the heat off and draw off the juice into sanitized canning jars.
Open the clamp on the hose, drain juice into jar, and cap with the sanitized lids, rings, and bands. Be sure to water bath or steam can your jars to USDA guidelines.
Once the kettle is empty of juice, I let the spent peaches stand in the juicer for an hour or more. This yields more juice.
You can see here that the peaches have really deflated after an hour standing in the juicer. The yield (after drawing off all of the original batch) is close to a quart of juice! I took it even farther to see what I’d get:
By leaving the spent peaches in the juicer overnight–in a refrigerator–they deflated even more and yielded yet another quart of juice. This juice was quite a bit lighter than the original batch but still flavorful. I boiled it with the extra quart of juice from the previous day and then poured it into sanitized quart jars and steam processed them for safety.
First day’s yield = 5 quarts. Total yield with second day extra quart = 6 quarts. You’ll notice that some of the jars are opaque. These jars have cooled off to room temperature. The other clearer jars are still hot.
Check back for posts on peach syrup and peach jelly!