Saturday, August 16, 2008

Just Peachy

A week ago Friday my yearly peach order came in. For the last 2 years I've gotten a bushel of peaches to preserve. It's wonderful in the throes of a winter snowstorm to pull a jar of summer-fresh peaches out of the cupboard. The bushel lasted us the whole year, with just a couple quarts left. As our family grows I may need to get more, but for now a bushel is quite enough thank you.

Since we were busy with the rummage sale last weekend, it was Monday before my peaches got out of the box and saw the light of day. Here was the scene Monday morning.

I decided to try something different this year. All the books I've read tell you to dip them in boiling water then cold water to slip off the skins. But that's a lot of hassle and a lot of standing in front of the stove. Teagan suggested I try using a vegetable peeler instead. Since none of my books could tell me why not to do this, I did it. Boy was it fast and easy! Sure, I lost just a bit of the fruit with the peel, but it wasn't enough to really justify going back to the dip method. (If anyone knows why using a peeler is a bad idea, leave a comment and let me know.) The big payoff with the peeler was that I could sit down to peel instead of being on my feet for 2 solid days. My chiropractor was very pleased.

Another thing I tried was freezing in quart bags. But since I use honey to preserve and not sugar, it didn't work that well. With sugar you can just toss the peaches in the dry sugar and bag them, but with honey you have to make a syrup to freeze them in. That ended up taking more honey than canning, so for the sake of my grocery budget I switched back to canning.

It only took 2 afternoons to do all the canning, as opposed to 2 entire days last year. Part of the credit goes to the peeler trick. But a lot of the credit goes to my peachy crew of helpers. I gave Kordell the task of collecting and washing jars. And Teagan measured honey and ran the canner while I kept peeling. It was a team effort this year and I'm so thankful for my guys and all the help they gave.

I came out with 21 quarts canned and 2 quarts in the freezer. The kids ate quite a few fresh. Even Hosanna got in on it, eating little pieces that I diced up for her. Peaches are quite the hit around here. I had 15 or so peaches left after Tuesday's canning and I decided to make jam. I didn't actually get to the jam making until last night though. I used Tanna's spiced honey peach jam recipe. It uses regular pectin and she always had it gel up nicely, so I'm hoping mine will do the same. So far it isn't gelled. I guess it can take up to 2 weeks to gel completely, so I'm trying to be patient.
They sure are pretty though. Not bad for my first attempt at jam.

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