Thursday, May 28, 2009

Rookie peach jam

Thanks for all your canning encouragement from my last post about my peaches. Yesterday Ruthie-5 and I picked the rest of the tree clean. We thought there weren't that many left on there, but we picked two plastic grocery bags full!

(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 stifle disappointment that recipe only makes 4 pints admire all that hard work.

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!


Anonymous said...

Our fav way to use peaches is to slice them and freeze them using Fruit Fresh, which you buy at the grocery store near cannning supplies. They taste the closest to fresh of any method we've tried. Good luck! Lori in IN

Jen said...

I dont do alot with peaches, cobblers and crisps....our peaches are not good here until August. You can cut peaches in half and drizzle honey on them..removing the seed...and grill them..they are pretty good. You should do freezer strawberry jam...much easier and makes much more...I'm proud of you. I;m going to can tomatoes and salsa this summer too..i'll let ya know how it goes.

Faerylandmom said...

YES, using the cool water will help. I remember doing that with my mom when I was at home. We used the hot water, then peeled them in cold water. The skins pretty much slip right off. :-)

Stacy said...

If you dunk the peaches in boiling water and then put them in a sink of COLD water (as cold as possible) the skins should slide right off.

Kelli said...

Simply put....BEAUTIFUL! I love looking at home canned food! Okay, so the canned meats don't look so hot, but the jams and jellies are perfectly delightful. I learned to can meat before anything else because I heard it was the easiest to master. Here is a photo of the chicken I canned: I have yet to try the jams and jellies. I am like you--very frightful to even try it!

Unknown said...

Homeade Peach Ice Cream is really yummy too! I have a friend that uses peach flavored soda to really bring out the peach flavor and it is SO good! The jam looks fabulous! Congrats!

se7en said...

Wow - I am so impressed, your jam looks fantastic. That is way to energetic for me, not to mention ambitious!!! I bet your house smelt fantastic!

Otherwise I can't find your contact address (it is predawn and cold and stormy - so I could just be missing it!). I saw this article on yard sales and I thought of you... you are too brave to even consider it!

Susanne said...

Yummy. My mom used to make the best sliced peaches in light syrup. We'd enjoy them all winter long.

I'd be all over making a peach crisp or two out of those peaches.

Stay At Home Mom said...

Oh I am so jealous! I haven't really tried this before. I am learning so much from this. Your final product looks really perfect. You did a great job. This looks like a fun activity to bond with kids.

Michelle said...

I used my double sink, filling one half with cold water and a bunch of ice cubes (I mean A BUNCH) for good measure. Then put the hot fruit straight into the cold water -- the skin should just slip off. One year a friend and I were working to make sure not one apple on this huge apple tree would go to waste we were coming up with all kinds of ideas because after canning 50 pints of apple butter you're pretty much done with that and who needs 50 pints of apple butter anyway? Point to this long side story -- we sliced the apples as though we were making pies and we seasoned them with flour, sugar and cinammon as always. Then we lined a pie plate with Saran wrap and put the apples in as though we were baking a pie. Cover it up with the saran wrap and put it in the freezer. When it's frozen enough to hold it's shape we pulled them out, wrapped them in freezer paper and foil and stuck them back into the freezer. Months later need a quick dessert because your husband just called from the church building and he's bringing a couple of deacons with him -- pull one of the packages out it's thawing a little while you make the pie crust, dump it in and voila --- a pie in a much shorter time than normal. You could do something of the same thing with the peaches --- there isn't anything better in the wide world than peach cobbler. Enjoy! I continue to be so envious of your new sort-of-country life!!

Mothership said...

Oh, you made my day! I'm glad my tips were helpful. I did post the jam recipe on my site . . .made me want to go crack open another jar that has been waiting on my shelves. We are months away from peaches up here. When they come, however, I'm going to have to try some of the other tips you've received via the comments.

Great picture of the sweet little blonde on the ladder, btw.

Laurel said...

Just wanted you to know that there are still some of us out here who do a significant amount of canning. Last summer, my kids and I "put up" 150+ quarts (yes, QUARTS) of jam (peach, strawberry, and raspberry).

Yes ... we use a LOT of jam, for about 10 daily peanut butter and jam sandwiches.

mama :)