Monday, July 18, 2011

Saving up for the Winter.

One of my favorite books is "Blueberries for Sal" by Robert McCloskey.
Actually, I love most stories by Robert McCloskey. This one starts out, "One day, Little Sal went with her mother to Blueberry Hill to pick blueberries. Little Sal brought along her small tin pail and her mother brought her large tin pail to put berries in. 'We will take our berries home and can them,' said her mother. 'Then we will have food for the winter.'" It's really a very charming story. Anyhow, preserving food for the winter used to be a necessary task for families back before food was so easy to get from supermarkets and the like. Drying food was common farther back in history, but in fairly recent history canning food at home was pretty popular. Unfortunately, it's becoming a lost art. Generally, I like to freeze things. I freeze blueberries, instead of canning them. I also freeze a lot of peaches, nectarines and persimmons. Well, I have a ton of fruit right now. See....
My mom gets me all this, plus we finished harvesting the Elbertas from our tree, and I must say we've gotten a bumper crop. For a branch! I had planned on freezing what we can't eat fresh, but then a friend of mine showed me her canned peaches and kind of got me inspired. I hadn't planned on canning, partly because of the work, but also because you can them in sugar syrup and I just don't want to eat that much sugar. But, I had some frozen peaches left from last year that we hadn't eaten yet, and I was kind of in the mood to try something new and maybe I could find a recipe that didn't have so much sugar. So, ok, I'm going to do it. But I wasn't exactly sure how. I'd never canned peaches before. My mom had. And my grandma. But not me. However, I wasn't going to let a little ignorance stop me. I went to the Internet (my source of all Truth and Reliable Information) and found a recipe for light syrup, so I thought I'd give that a try. First, you have to sterilize the jars. Food poisoning is no laughing matter. I boiled them for 10 minutes. Then, I cut up my fruit and added a little lemon juice to keep them from turning brown.
Then, I threw in another load of laundry. Because, I'm multi-tasking. I made the light syrup and cooked the peaches a little in that...
And then I put them in the jars and filled in the blanks with the syrup. I put the lids on them and processed them for 2o minutes and....
voila' canned peaches. It wasn't as bad as I thought. Now, I just have to wait till the jars cool and I hear the lids pop, which means that they've sealed.
I also decided to get a little wild and crazy and can a few jars of nectarines. I know, I'm out of control! We'll see how those hold up. I'm not so sure. Oh well! It's been fun!

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