Saturday, August 15, 2015

Peaches!

The only tree in our yard that even remotely enjoyed this summer was the frost peach. 

Smokin’ hot weather? Heck yeah. Bring it, said the peach tree. 

Randomly, and somewhat off-topic. Chris saw a bumper sticker on a prius yesterday that said: “Cool Prius! -Said Nobody Ever” .  Love it. 

Anyway, back to the peaches. We planted our tree back in 2011 in honor of our first child's momentous birth. So this is Ben’s tree and is therefore four years old. Which isn’t very long in the life of a peach tree. It’s our baby peach. 

Last year was the first summer we got fruit and frankly, it wasn’t anything to write home about. Not much flavor. We ate a few and then turned the rest into jam. 

Actually, I harvested them and then we promptly flew up to Alaska for a week so they sat in our fridge and our house sitter probably thought we had a weird obsession with tiny peaches, given that our fridge was entirely empty except for a giant bowl of tiny peaches. 

But they made AMAZING jam. It was seriously fantastic. So great that I turned into a hoarder and didn’t give any of it away. It’s usually my go-to hostess gift but nope, we ate every last jar. 

We ran out a few months ago and have been subsisting on an ok-but-no-super-flavorful plum jam. I tried to go the natural pectin route, using apples from our (former) crab-apple tree but the result was meh. 

So, back to Little Peachy. This poor tree decided to put all its energy to to producing the tastiest, most massive number of peaches known to man. So many that little peachy was bent in half trying to support the weight of these suckers. Today our mission was one of compassion: free the tree from her burden! (Yes, I should have staked up the branches and picked some of the littler fruits earlier on...what can I say, my time for horticultural tasks right now is at an all-time low)



Holy moly they were delicious. And Ben loved picking the fruit from ‘his’ tree.  (Hmm. just realized that we’ve yet to plant a tree for little Em. We’d best get on that)


We ate them for dinner atop a green salad. Which was NOT picked from the garden because my lettuce, due to the heat, bolted in two days flat.  Boo.


It was a grand harvest. And our little tree is standing a little straighter now. Hopefully she’ll now put her efforts into growing better, stronger branches.


I am seriously going to dream about these glorious peaches tonight.



Oh hey. Bolted lettuce. Pretty, in a non-edible kind of way. 


The roof on our garden shed is looking a wee bit dry, just like everything else around here. But also rather pretty, no?


So the plan is to unapologetically gorge ourselves silly on fresh fruit and then jam the rest. Because I still adore peach jam more than any other jam out there, with maybe the exception of highbush cranberry. Which you will probably only know about if you’ve lived in Alaska. Liquid gold, I tell you.

The problem with peaches, of course, is that there is an extra step in the jam-making process. You can’t just cut the fruit it, throw it in the pot with sugar and pectin, and call the whole thing good. No. You have the remove both the pits and, annoyingly, the skin.

So I set up a processing line in our kitchen: Whole fruit at one end, followed by a boiling hot water bath, then an ice water dunk, then the peeling process (which may be easy or horrible, depending on the individual peach), a bowl for the skins, then a holding bowl. Then I tear the peach apart with my hands, deposit the pit in the skin bowl, and toss the halves in the giant glass jar. It’s time consuming.

And, of course, done in the heat of the summer, standing over a hot stove, working with boiling liquid and slimy peaches. If I’ll be perfectly honest, I no longer love canning, mostly due to the fact that I’ve always done it in miserably hot kitchens with no ventilation. I’M LOOKING AT YOU, YOU LOUSY RECIRCULATING FAN.


But I’m telling you, peeps, the end product makes it worthwhile, especially in the dead of winter when you need a reminder of summer. 

Stay tuned for more canning goodness to come. 

xo, 

Sonja

1 comment:

  1. We've become very careful with what we can. It's a ton of work, and I want to make sure that if we're goign to the effort of making/canning/storing that we actually will use it.

    For that reason, we mostly stick to berries for jam (no pectin required, glorious) and can peaches, skinned and sliced, in very light sugar water (it's better than the syrup of the grocery store canned peaches). DELICIOUS.

    We also mostly use wide-mouthed pint jars, that way all the jars are the same size (makes it very easy to reuse and know what size lids to buy), and we've also found that we pretty much only need the pint size. If we need more, then we open another pint. Easy peasy. It beats opening a quart jar and then not using all of it (or forgetting about it) and having part of it go bad.

    So, this year, in addition to the jam and peaches, we have some sweet canned cherries (pitted and in light sugar water, mostly for smoothies in the winter), a crudload of applesauce (great holiday gifts, and this year, the berries are ripe at the same time as apples, so I have blackberry applesauce and raspberry. I also made a quince applesauce which is amazing and my usual chunky vanilla cinnamon), and finally, marinara (yet to come).

    I don't can salsa anymore. I love salsa with garlic and onion, and I've found that the processing of the canned salsa makes the onion/garlic taste "off" and pervade the whole salsa, and not in a good way.

    Whew. Sounds crazy, but you're right-- SOOO GOOD in the winter. :)

    ReplyDelete