All. Things. Peaches.

Moving to the country, gonna eat a lot of peaches!

Last Friday I bought a 25 lb box of New Haven peaches for $20 at our local Beebe Farms. That’s $.80/lb for a pesticide-free, locally grown and perfectly ripe box of opportunity.

Said box looked smaller at the farm than it did on my kitchen counter. I didn’t keep a specific count, but I used at least 60 peaches in the recipes I made, not counting the ones we ate all week-long as snacks.

It was a lot of peaches.

A week later, I have conquered the peaches. Every. Single. One. Yes, I know Dana and I often make silly things into a game where there are winners and losers. Everyone has a different approach to giant boxes of fruit in their lives. This is mine.

And trust me when I tell you, I SCHOOLED those peaches.

First I made a massive cobbler from Suellen Anderson at food.com for an awesome river party. There were 12 of us. We ate it all.

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Then I made 10 half pints of jam. I do not skin my peaches or use pectin. I just boil and boil until the jam doesn’t run off the back of a cold spoon.

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Then I found this recipe for Peaches N Cream bars from Sally’s Baking Addiction. I made a double batch (of course) and the middle didn’t set, so I would recommend sticking to the recipe.

Then I made popsicles for the kids. I threw six cut up peaches, vanilla greek yogurt, a tablespoon of lemon, a cup of almond milk and a teaspoon of vanilla into the blender.

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With the last six peaches, I made some peach/vodka and peach/rum ice cubes, also in the blender. I used two cups blended peaches and 1 cup booze. After they freeze, I’ll pop them out into ziploc bags clearly labeled BOOZE and use them in iced tea.

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Yum. But–I am DONE with peaches for the year.

 

 

 

 

The last month I have been knee-deep in cherry plums, peaches and sugar and snap peas, which all came ripe. Once they’ve been picked, they have to be handled directly. It’s overwhelming–and I only have a little ol’ garden. 

How on earth did those pioneer women handle all the bounty from their farms in the three months of harvest? And the stress of knowing that if they missed it, come late winter, they’d be out of food. Gives a whole new meaning to “women’s work”.

 

 

I can ~ Jen

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Not like “Yes I can!” Like can food. Jams and applesauce, mostly. Butters. Once, lemon curd.

It feels weird to admit this. Maybe because Dana and I have realized that with our recipes and our stories, we might be crossing over into crunchy granola SAHM mom-dom. There is nothing wrong with crunchy granola moms, but we don’t fit the mold. We’re more like cancer fighting sparkly Queens of the Castle moms.  And we’re taking urban homesteading mainstream, baby!

Anyhow, last Fall, I made a giant batch of organic Granny Smith applesauce with nothing in it but apples, water and cinnamon. It was tasty, but we didn’t eat it fast enough and some went to waste. I could have frozen it, but I have issues with freezing things. So instead  I started canning.

I bought the Ball canning kit, which comes with the Ball Recipe Book. There are plenty of websites that have tutorials about canning. I’ll put some at the bottom. Know that canning is science, in terms of recipes and measurements. Turns out, you can’t just make Aunt Sue’s famous pasta sauce and can it. Unless you want to die of botulism. You have to balance things like acids and sugars. Jams are a bit more forgiving, in the sense that if you screw up the ingredients, you only risk getting the consistency wrong, and not death. As long as you have correctly sanitized your jars, lids and tops, that is.

It scared me at first too. But it’s really just a process and once you get the process down, it’s easy. I make sure I use recipes which I know are tried and true.

The first time I canned jam, it took four hours to get three half-pints. I was nervous and kept checking and double-checking the process.

Last week I canned 4 half pints of blueberry jam and 3 pints of apricot jam in 90 minutes total. Six months of jam in an hour and a half.  That’s the kind of canning I am talking about!

I got the apricots at the store. But the kids and I picked the blueberries ourselves.

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I’ve never picked blueberries before. This farm was amazing—beautiful, green, clean. The kind of place where you let the kids run free and don’t worry about them.

We ended up with three pints for $14. Considering blueberries can run $4/half pint in the store when they’re not on sale, this was a pretty good price.

I make low sugar jam because I cannot bring myself to put 6 cups of sugar in anything.  We don’t notice any difference in taste.

In 45 minutes, I took blueberries from this…

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To this…

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To this…

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To this…

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I know, it’s not for everyone. But if you are curious about canning, then I’ll tell you  it’s not so hard once you get started. And there’s something so fulfilling about the fruits (ha!) of my labor all lined up there on the counter.

Resources:

www.freshpreserving.com

www.foodinjars.com

www.kraftbrands.com/surejell

www.pickyourown.org/jam