(And, just for the record, yes, she is on a six-foot ladder, and yes, I do occasionally comb her hair. What to do with curls??).
I decided to go the safe route for my rookie batch, using the recipe on the Sure-Jell box, even though I usually panic when I read things like, "Measure EXACTLY." When it comes to cooking, I'm not that exact of a girl (I'm a WORDS girl, remember?). But I swallowed my fear and proceeded anyway.
Here's my timeline yesterday:
9:30 Pick peaches, read through Sure-Jell recipe a hundred times, and call Mom for tips. Search garage (which is piled floor to ceiling with garage sale junk) for Grandma's antique canning pot. I know I've seen it since we moved...somewhere! Wash jars and lids, measure sugar, and line everything up so I can find it later when I have to boil everything for "EXACTLY ONE MINUTE." Try not to panic.
Aren't they just a work of art?
10:30 Peel and pit 3 lbs. peaches. Keep cut peaches in bath of homemade Fruit Fresh to keep from turning brown (from my ancient Better Homes and Gardens cookbook: 2T salt and 2 T lemon juice in 1 gal. of water - drain before proceeding).
I used boiling water to loosen skins, but that didn't work so well, unless a peach was over-ripe. Next batch I will try Emily at Messages from the Mothership's tip of putting in cool water after the boiling, to see if that works better. I also hope she will PLEASE POST ALL THOSE INCREDIBLE TIPS she emailed me (**edited to add** Here is her recipe for Peach Marmalade. Notice the casual way she makes it all sound so easy. I am SO trying this.)11:00 Put peaches in food processor and let Ruthie-5 push button to roughly chop. That's enough, Babe. VRRRR. Really. Stop. Now. Dump what is now borderline-puree into large pan and follow cooking directions on Sure-Jell box (the cooking part only takes a few min). Ruthie took one look at this and said, "It looks like throw-up." This from the child who hates everything, anyway. Just think what it would look like if it were chunkier.
11:15 Pour fruit mixture into cute jars and put in Grandma's canner. I got this porcelain-on-something-cheap pot when Allie-15 was a baby and my grandparents were moving into an assisted living center. I wanted it just because it was Grandma's, and it was, well...OLD ("Surely this has decorating possibilities?" Yes, I am decorating impaired.). It has been in storage for YEARS. I never thought I'd ever USE it (once I bent it back into shape - it got hit by the car a few times in the garage)! I am sure I will find the top somewhere after the garage sale...foil worked quite well in a pinch.
11:25 Remove from canner and
I made a second batch right after the first, so by 1:00 p.m. (3.5 hours from start of peeling) I had eight pints! One is already half-eaten, and another I have already given away. So fun. And SO YUMMY!
Kinda like my ventures into actual food gardening, I see learning how to can (or "put up" as we say here in the South) as one of those lost arts. Yes, it's fun, and yes, it makes me feel connected to the past. But I also sometimes wonder what would happen if (or "when") things got Really Bad and we had to feed our families with what we could grow and preserve ourselves. (And in my darker moments, would today's kids know how to *play* without screens and cell phones? But let's not go there now).
ACK!! I have a long ways to go! But I'm heading there!
Keep the recipes coming!! I still have probably 25 lbs of peaches in my refrigerator.
If you have a favorite canning recipe (peaches or other fruit), a tip, experience, or picture, leave me a comment or email with the link and I'll add your link to the bottom of this post!