Monday, 8 August 2011

Millions of Peaches

Went into the Country, got a lot of peaches.

A half bushel to be precise.

Here's something you should know about me for this story to make any sense: I am completely incompetent in areas related to spatial functioning. I'm that person who picks out a gallon sized tupperware to hold a cup of food, or worse, a cup sized tupperware to hold a gallon of food. I can't pack a bag, or a trunk, or organize a closet. I can't visualize what fits where - ever. Thankfully God gave me Jeff who is amazing at those sorts of things, and he balances me out and prevents me from attempting to rearrange the furniture in ways that can't possibly work.

While we were in Indiana we ate the most delicious, juicy, sweet peaches. All the peaches I've bought this year have been mealy or gone bad instead of ripened (grrr), so I was quite curious as to where the fantastic peaches came from. Lo and behold, the market that sold them was on the very road we were taking to drive home.

We stopped off and I ran out to buy the peaches, only to return to the car to tell Jeff that he and the boys should come in. The market was very cute - they had all kinds of fun things for sale - jams, fruit butters, bread mixes, hard candies by the pound, a wide variety of farm fresh fruits and vegetables, and little bags of popcorn for the kids to sample.

I found the section with peaches in the back. There were a few types, some in bins, some in baskets ready for sale, some in large buckets. Now, I knew that I wanted some to eat and some to use for jam. The baskets just didn't look big enough, so I went for one of the buckets. My warning should have been Jeff commenting "Don't you think that's a lot of peaches? Do you think that will fit in our trunk?" It did. Barely (we had the pack in play back there as well as a bag and a back pack and we drive a small car). I also picked up a giant cantaloupe, sweet corn, and bell peppers. I wanted cider too, but it had to be refrigerated.

On Monday I decided that I should attack my half bushel of peaches.

This is what it looked like when I started:

First, I picked out some ripe peaches for eating and some that would be ripe by the end of the week, so that we would have plenty fresh. Then I made some jam.

This is what it looked like after that:

At that point I realized I would need to be a lot more creative to find uses for my peaches. Over the course of the week I made another batch of jam, canned six pints of peach slices, did a batch of peach butter (which has nothing to do with actual butter, it's just a smooth, thick fruit spread - like apple butter), and made peach syrup (recipe here). Then I put the rest of the peaches in the "eat fresh" pile, because I was done.

The fruit of my labor:

Then, because the canner was already out and I had ripe tomatoes I made a round of salsa. It was my first attempt and it was not terrible, but it was very tomato heavy and thus too sweet and not spicy enough by half. Next time I will be trying a different recipe. My main canning goal is to make enough jam this summer to not have to purchase any during the winter, because I can use low/no sugar fruit pectin and make jam that is much healthier than what I will pay for at the store. Certain members of my family eat PB&J at least five days a week, so jam goes quick around here. Unfortunately I haven't had much luck finding good, ripe, and inexpensive fruit this summer, so the peaches were a nice breakthrough. My other goal is to make and preserve some great salsa from the tomatoes, jalapenos, habaneros, and bell peppers that I am growing in my garden. I've struck out on my first try, but am optimistic that my next batch of salsa could be better.


Heather said...

Since you had your little way, you ate peaches every day.

Way to go on all the canning! I only wish we could do some together. Our nectarine tree produced pretty well this year, so I've been cooking with those this week too.

Kathryn said...

Good for you! This is my plan for next week.. canning canning canning...

I use this website for alot of my recipes:

If you scroll down a little bit, there are some drop downs and you can select different groups of stuff and then you'll see a whole bunch of recipes under that category. There's a whole sauce, salsa, vinegrette, syrups, butters, section.... They also have a map of farms in IL that you can go pick your own and get local produce. I'm going to hit a few soon, so start canning and stocking up for the winter!
Happy Canning!

Sweet Apron said...

I just saw this-that is amazing, Amy. How delicious will those jewel-toned peaches taste on a cold winter day.
I may borrow the syrup recipe.

Sweet Apron said...

I actually saw Presidents of the United States of America back in the day....mid 20s maybe?

Emily said...

you should make peach salsa!!

Hannah said...

You're amazing. I have loved reading your recent posts and am so interested in Nic's medical mysteries - praise God he is doing so well. Say hi to Tommy for me and that I hope to visit for some more cuddling soon ;-)