With August and September's surplus of food, I have been trying different ways to preserve it all, so we have some reminiscence of summer when January comes along. I tried my hand at canning peaches for the very first time this summer, a friend and her children came over to share the experience. We let the kids watch movies, eat popcorn, and play while we caught up, laughed, cared for the occasional unhappy child, and enjoyed the novelty of something we remember our mother's and grandmother's doing, but we had never done on our own before.
We bought a bushel of "second" red haven peaches from a favorite orchard stand. "Seconds" peaches are the peaches that get a little bruised and worn from their short trip to the stand, or have some kind of imperfection. They also sport a price tag a third of what the poster child peaches cost. Since we were using them up the same day, the imperfections weren't enough to spoil them before we used them all. We also bought 2 gallons of their raw unfiltered apple cider that was frozen from the year before, planning to use some for the actual canning, and drinking the rest (my little one's favorite part).
We followed this webpage's instructions for cold packing the peaches, processing them long enough for our elevation (4500 feet!) and instead of a sugar syrup used the apple juice. We didn't can the whole bushel of peaches, saving a few of the under ripe ones for making some peach jalapeno jam a day or so later. By the end of the evening, we had fourteen quarts of peaches, four hungry kids (who requested dinner, "but it better not be peaches!"), four sore feet, and two empowered women who felt a small connection to times past and the satisfaction of real food work. My favorite part about real food, it has a heritage.
I especially loved that through the process of it all, old memories were remembered and new ones were made. I realized we weren't just putting up peaches.
What are you preserving this year?