Canning

“I tried to be normal once.

Worst two minutes of my
life.”                             
-Unknown

I found this quote online the other day, and I thought it was pretty good.  Because I feel like I am pretty not normal.  🙂

I have been so busy the past few weeks, and this next week promises to be really busy, too.  The main cause of this is canning.  We’ve been canning peaches and tomatoes.  We purchased three bushels of peaches for ourselves two weeks ago (I think), and I have canned roughly 16 quarts and 2 pints over the past few weeks.  And that could increase.

Mom and I have been going to the farmer’s market and collecting tomatoes to can.  So far, we have 19 quarts and 2 pints.  And that could increase.

This morning Mom and I went up to a farm about 45 minutes north of us and purchased almost 50 lbs. of tomatoes, 7 lbs. of tomatillos, several pounds of potatoes, 9 melons (mostly yellow watermelons, but two were cantaloupes, and one was a snow leopard), and several sweet peppers.  Today we canned the vast majority of the tomatoes.  That made 12 quarts and 1 pint of the 19 quarts and 2 pints above.

I love canning.  But it is exhausting.

And so listed on my schedule this week:  wash dog, manage clothes, clean room, can chipotle peppers, can jalapenos, can tomatillos, can raspberry jam, work two afternoons, teach three piano lessons, and hopefully do some school.  Not on the schedule (but things that I’ll still have to do) practice piano and help with meals and other things at home.  It would be really nice if I could make my bed at least one day this week.  And it would be really nice if I could accomplish all this without dying.

Just kidding about the last part.

Things are a bit exciting around here.

Here are a few photos from canning peaches the other day.  Enjoy!

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Peaches being prepped for canning

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The canning/blanching set up:  the big black pot is the canner, the second pot is for blanching, the blue bowl is for iced water, the clear bowl is for the blanched and cooled peaches.

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Blanched, peeled peaches.  Aren’t they beautiful?

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Just look at those purty colors!

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Sliced and in the ascorbic acid solution

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In the jar in a light sugar solution

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I love how food looks in jars

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Practically ready to go into the canner (just have to put on one more lid)

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A BLT Salad, Another Jam Picture, and Inspiration for a Future Project

The other night we had BLT’s for dinner.  Of course I couldn’t quite have the sandwich part of that, so I decided to make it a salad.  I placed some tomato pieces on a plateful of romaine lettuce, then crumbled some bacon on top.  As I was contemplating the dressing, I knew that a ranch would be perfect.  But I can’t have dairy.  Anyways, we didn’t have any ranch.  I remembered seeing a recipe for dairy-free ranch dressing made with mayonnaise.  I couldn’t find the exact recipe I had previously seen, but I found this one and tried it instead.  I added some dill to it and used regular onion instead of the green onion.  I didn’t care for it much.  The mayo that I had made was WAY to salty, and I think the regular onion wasn’t a good substitution.

It was pretty, though.

I saw this really really super amazing recipe on PW’s site the other day.  I just have to try it.  But it has to be Primal.  So I am going to have to do some really different things with it.

🙂

I am going to have to try to change that soon.  I’ll post about that soon.

On another note, the peaches finally ripened and I was able to can some more Blueberry Raspberry Peach Jam.  It was gooooood.

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Summer 2012 Canning – Day 1

Now that we had all those peaches and tomatoes, I needed to do something with them.  As much as we love peaches, 1 1/2 bushels is a lot to just eat.  We have frozen them in the past, and they come in handy for smoothies (also, my little sister loves to eat frozen peaches right out of the freezer).  I have also canned peach raspberry jam, which most people in our home liked.  This year I wanted to try just canning peaches (like whole peaches).

On Saturday I canned 7 pints of peaches and 3 quarts of tomatoes.  I reduced the amount of sugar in the peaches from 3 c. to 1 1/4 c.  When Drake ate the extra peaches (there are usually some that don’t fit in a jar) he said they were good, but still on the sweet side.  Next time I will probably use even less sugar.  There isn’t much to say about the diced tomatoes.  They are not all that exciting.  But that’s three more quarts ready for winter.

Although I used 8 lbs. of peaches on Saturday, there were still plenty to can (and still are for that matter).  Mom and I had talked about doing some jam.  I had looked at some peach jam recipes, which looked good.  The past few years I have made peach raspberry jam, which is quite good.  I was thinking of making peach raspberry again, when Mom mentioned that we had blueberries in the freezer.  After thinking about it, I decided to make peach blueberry raspberry jam, using this recipe.  Again, I reduced the sugar from 3 c. to 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 c. (I can’t remember exactly how much I used).  I ran my raspberries through our KitchenAid fruit strainer so that there weren’t so many seeds.  I know in the recipe it says 2 lbs. of peaches, but I needed probably twice that many to equal 4 1/2 c. of fruit puree (and that includes the peaches, blueberries, and raspberries).  For the raspberries I used 2 six-oz. packages, and I used 1/2+ c. of blueberries.

The jam turned out wonderfully.  Everybody liked it (again, there was just a smidge extra to try).  I will probably reduce the amount of sugar even more next time, since it was a bit on the sweet side (not too over-sweet, though).  I was hoping to get 8 1/2-pint jars from the recipe since it says that it makes 8 c., but it only made 5 and 1/2 half-pint jars (plus the little extra that we ate).

Today Mom realized that, even with all the peaches we canned, we only used the half bushel of over ripes and we haven’t dipped into the bushel yet.  I also froze a cookie sheet full of peaches today, and that didn’t push us into the bushel yet.  I am planning to make some more jam tomorrow, and I will probably can some more peaches, too.  I’ll let you know how all that goes.

So how about you?  Do you can?  If so, what do you can?  Do you have a favorite jam recipe, or do you prefer pickles?  Or are you somebody that would rather not do the canning yourself?

 

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On Saturday – The peaches prepped and ready to be blanched

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Tomatoes

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The recipe said that it made 6 pints, so I only sterilized 6 pint jars.  I should know better than this since I have canned before, but I had extra peaches, enough to fill another jar.  So I had to sterilize another jar.  These were waiting to go into a jar while the others where already in the canner.

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The finished product

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Monday – some of the peaches and raspberries

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The empty jars – I found them pretty to look at

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All the fruit

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Once I start making the jam, things get a bit intense and I don’t get a whole lot of pictures.  I’ll have to try to remember tomorrow…

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There were still some peach chunks and whole blueberries in the finished jams, which gave it some lovely colors.

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A Trip to Peaches

I have so much to post.  I have been doing quite a bit of cooking and canning.  I made another dessert today!  It turned out wonderfully.  So all this to say that I will hopefully be posting frequently this next week. 🙂

Before we get to the canning, I need to cover where we got the peaches first. 

Peaches are very important to us.  My mom counts down the days every year until we can get peaches.  We get peaches from one specific grower in Calhoun County, and they are wonderful.  After we get them, we will often eat several peaches at each meal, the sweet juice dripping down our chins and arms and dribbling all across the table.  We love peaches.

Last year we drove to the orchard for the first time to pick them up (previously someone else picked them up for us).  The drive is beautiful.  A winding country road through farmland.  As you crest the hills, on either side of the road the ground rolls away into lots of hills, divided by the different fields with trees between some of them.  Absolutely beautiful.  There are not a whole lot of places to pull off to take pictures, though.  This time Mom stopped twice so that I and a friend who was with us could step out and take a few pictures. 

We specifically went to get peaches, but Mom also wanted to stop at some of the other farms along the way.  We purchased some tomatoes, a yellow squash, and some zucchini.  I love getting local produce!

 

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Waiting for the ferry

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At the orchard – they also had tomatoes

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The Peaches

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The view

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Isn’t it lovely?

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My friend

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“Life is a highway…”

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All yellow!

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They were droopy, probably because it has been so dry

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Yay!

Today we went and picked up a bunch of peaches!  We stopped on the way and picked up tomatoes, cucumbers, and zucchini.

I am just delighting in the bounty of freshness that the Lord has blessed us with.  It makes me feel so rich!

Right now I am picking out the recipes that I am going to use to can the tomatoes and peaches tomorrow.  I am so excited!  Somebody be excited with me!  Yay!  I can’t wait!

Hurrah for summer’s bounty!