A bit about us...

We are a modern family of three, living on less than two acres with a 3,000 square foot garden that meets our produce needs and allows us to share with friends and neighbors. Our laying flock of chickens seems to expand each year as we raise chicks each Spring to replace older hens. This blog is more of a journal, if you will, for us to chronicle and share our experiences in the yard, garden and kitchen. It is our hope that along the way a few folks might learn something, be entertained, or simply enjoy sharing in our stories and the lessons we learn on a daily basis. I named the blog after the times when I am the happiest, when I am elbow deep in earth.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Tastes of summer - Peaches

I thought they were so pretty,
I "instagramed" the pic.
When my best farm friend showed up with a surprise peck of peaches, I wasn't bummed.  I popped them into the refrigerator for a couple days and pondered what to do with them.  They were ripe, so I couldn't afford to let them sit on the counter, or even in the refrigerator for long. I decided these sweet, smaller, first peaches of the season should go to something besides jam, so I made a list of possibilities and landed on Zesty Peach Barbecue Sauce (recipe can be found here). Boy am I glad I did! It is simply delicious. It's a thinner barbecue sauce than one made with tomatoes, but will be great on grilled meats. It will be fun to experiment with cooking with it. One peck of sweet little peaches yielded 24 jars of this deliciousness. There were about 18 little sweet treats left out of the peck for fresh eating as well.

Not bad for a leisurely hour of picking
For round two of peachiness, two Saturdays ago, Lexi and I picked a beautiful bushel of peaches to start our weekend off right!

So juicy!
She begged to try one before we left, so we looked for the ripest one of the bunch and shared it. It was so juicy and delicious!  She sat on the cart with our bounty and enjoyed the "fruit of her labor" happily.

They were not immediately ripe, which bought me some time to do other chores. The downside to this was that they were ready during the week! So, how much does a bushel of peaches actually work up to in preserved goodness? Let me show you!

Peach Habanero Salsa
Tuesday night, the peaches were ready to go, so I spent time making Peach Habanero Salsa. It's a great way to use a bunch of peaches all at once, and we had just recently given away our very last jar of it, so it made sense. It's such a beautiful recipe, with gorgeous, colorful, fresh and local ingredients. Preserving can be so rewarding for the soul, palate and the eyes!

Wednesday was a late work night, so Thursday meant canning after work.  On this night, I made another double batch of salsa, and did a batch each of Peach Cardamom Jam and Peach Champagne Jam.

Blueberry Peach Jam-to-be
I had just under a peck left to process, so Saturday was the day to finish my ample bushel of peaches. As I scalded and peeled the peaches, they were so pretty, I decided to do just a couple quarts of halved peaches. Next was Peach Jam (plain) and the remaining peaches went into Blueberry Peach Jam (since blueberries are still going).

Totally Peachy Results
So here's what a bushel of peaches looks like when you make it into other things to preserve the flavor of "just-picked" peaches...

(Two disclaimers: 1. This picture represents the bushel, minus quite a few eaten out of hand and as I canned... :-)  and 2. You may notice a few jars with rings on them - I do NOT store them with rings, these were jars headed to the fair as entries.)

Totals include:
9 Quarts of Pie Filling (recipe can be found here)
2 Quarts of halved peaches in light syrup (followed the instructions in the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving)
32 half pints, 1-12 oz jar of Peach Habanero Salsa followed the instructions in the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, but substituted 4 habaneros in place of 4 jalapenos)
5 half pints, 1 quarter pint of Blueberry Peach Jam (recipe can be found here)
6 half pints, 6 quarter pints of Peach Champagne Jam (recipe can be found here)
6 half pints of Peach Jam (I used the recipe inside the Sure Jel, no-sugar/low sugar pectin box)
3 half pints, 5 quarter pints of Peach Cardamom Jam (I used the regular peach jam recipe and added two teaspoons of cardamom at the end)

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