My relationship with food preservation is erratic. We don´t have the storage space for much, and we certainly don´t have much space to produce food. So my experiments with tomatoes, herbs, etc., are necessarily limited in scope. I´m also always concerned I´m going to crack the ceramic glass stove top or something awful.
That said, I do have a few mason jars and so far have tried canning belgian pears, sweet cherries, apple pie filling, and spiced peaches. The belgian pears kept forever - over 18 months. The rest seemed to at least seal well after using a hot water bath.
Then my dear friend W was nice enough to bring me pectin from the US (since I´ve never found it here, and never seen it even referred to) to try some preserves. The Spanish people I know, friends and family, wouldn´t make their own preserves any more than they´d bake their own bread, which is hardly surprising since they´re mostly city-dwellers. In fact, very few people I know even eat preserves. V won´t touch them. He´d rather just have buttered toast.
But I digress, anyway - I promptly put the pectin somewhere and can´t find it again - and much to my astonishment, I found that one could can peaches in light syrup without any pectin, or even cooking them, for that matter. So I did. I par boiled them and then plunged into cold water. The skins slipped off without much trouble, but I could not figure out how to halve them without it turning into a squishy, juicy mess. The pit wouldn´t release from the slices without disintegrating, so I ended up with odd shaped quarters instead. My jar packing technique needs work too - they certainly looked full at the time, but now space seems available with the peaches floating toward the top of the jar.
The jars were put into a boiling bath with a folded tea towel in the bottom to keep them off the direct heat and the water 3/4´s up the sides of the tall jars - the smaller ones were submerged. They simmered for just under 30 minutes, then I just shut off the ring and let them cool in the bath, à la Cottage Smallholder. And if I couldn´t locate the pectin, I did find a River Cottage Preserves book I forgot I had - so I guess it all evens out.
Now if I could find some Seville oranges to make really dark marmelade. . .