Saturday, August 24, 2013

Millions of Peaches

Not quite a million, but our fresh produce fairy Anika hooked us up with a bushel of freshly picked organic Michigan peaches. They were quite possibly the most beautiful peaches in all the land.

So, what's a girl to do with 50 lbs. of peaches? I freaked out and did nothing the first day. But I did make a plan for jam, salsa, barbecue sauce, peaches in syrup, and frozen peaches. And Ellis made a plan to eat as many peaches as possible before bedtime. We both triumphed.

The next day, things got real. I took Ellis and his cousin to one of those crazy trampoline places in the morning to wear them out and then I spent the afternoon and evening putting up as many peaches as I could.

The first step in any canning session is to take your kitchen to Beauty Base Zero. Your kitchen must be a pristine blank slate onto which you can project your particular brand of canning carnage, er, I mean canning glory.

Then I sorted my produce. (Cue the gratuitous peach beauty shots!)

And then, my friends, it's time to get to work.

First up was peach jam. We used the most-bruisey peaches for the jam (though even the bruisey ones were awesome). Peaches can be tedious to process because you do have to take the skins off. Once you get into a rhythm, things go quickly. We used the Pamona's Pectin low-sugar recipe, but I used the most recommended sugar. Last year, my peach jam didn't set well. It was fine and we used it mostly in smoothies and things like that. Still, I wanted it to set. I must confess, it took over a day of cooling, but the jam does seem to have set up nicely.

With 12 half-pints of peach jam put up, I turned to the most awesome but most labor-intensive recipe: Peach Salsa. I'd gotten the peppers and onions and all at the farmers market that morning. Peach Salsa is a wonderful confluence of ripe things here in the midwest. Every ingredient was freshly picked. Still, salsa-making is basically a chop-a-thon. The chopping and prepping can take hours.  And it did. But what a pay-off!

14 pints later, all was well. Oh, except that it was 3 in the morning, I'd gone to bed, and the lovely and sleep-deprived Sarah has to finish up. True love means finishing up your partner's overly-ambitious canning projects.

Stay tuned for Peaches in Syrup, Frozen Peaches, Peach Bourbon Barbecue Sauce, and whatever I end up doing with that last bowl of peaches eyeing me from the end of the table.

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