Sunday, July 18, 2010

Domestic Therapy and Putting Up with TCM

Every now and then I get restless. Nothing is stocked up in my freezer and my pantry is bare. It no longer contains stocks of apple sauce or jam or meyer lemon marmalade, but rather packages containing trace amounts of Cheez-Its and a half-empty box of Bisquick that was purchased in a moment of frenzy. It's completely pathetic and makes me feel rather uneasy.

I knew I'd have the house to myself all day, so I did what any normal, sane girl would do. I went to Kroger - and came back with this:

I would have preferred organic, but I was unable to find any organic orchards nearby, and the Whole Foods price was $3.00 / lb. Kroger's were $0.88 / lb.

I figured I'd be washing, blanching, and peeling - most of the research I did confirmed that this process would remove approximately 90% of pesticides, so - not quite as good as organic, but certainly a better value!

Then I counted the peaches and panicked at the enormity of the project ahead of me - so I called in reinforcements. Thankfully, my mother lives right around the corner and she was happy to come over and peel peaches all day. According to her, she doesn't get to see me enough, so she was more than willing to come over and work with me in the kitchen all day if it meant spending time with me. Awwwwww... For a minute, I felt guilty.. but then I realized what a second set of hands in the kitchen means, so I've already started scheming our next project. ;-)

Here they are after their first bath:

After that, they were blanched and peeled, pitted and quartered. Then I used some to make low-sugar jam. By using no sugar needed pectin, I was able to cut the sugar back from 7 1/2 cups to 1 1/2 cups without compromising flavor or palitability.. and without using artificial sweeteners. In fact, I think it tastes better! One recipe made 3 pints of jam.

After that, I canned 7 quarts and 1 pint of quartered peaches in a very light syrup. And after that, I was too tired to spend more time hot water bath canning, so I froze another 4 quarts of sugared peaches and 3 quarts of plain peaches in zip-top bags. Two more cups didn't make it through the preservation process - they were used in a very yummy impromptu peach cobbler. Apparently you can't screw up cobbler topping if it includes cream and butter. Yum!

I wanted to make some fruit leather, but ran out of time and energy. Thank goodness peach season isn't over yet!

Here is the finished product:

And the total tally:
- 7 Quarts + 1 Pint Sliced Peaches in Light Syrup
- 3 Pints Low Sugar Peach Jam
- 4 Quarts Sugared Peaches, Frozen
- 3 Quarts Plain Peaches, Frozen

*I was watching Zach Galifinakis Live at the Purple Onion while typing this. I hope it was cohesive.*


Erin said...

That is a LOT of work! I am already dreading tomato canning with kids underfoot LOL! That is a great photo of the finished product!

Annie's Granny said...

Love it! My neighbor will be supplying me with enough peaches for my year's supply of jam. Organic. Free. If I'm lucky, she'll give me enough to can a few pints, but I'm not counting on that. Her tree isn't very big, and her peaches are quite small...but they sure do taste good!

DaBeardedOne said...

What's the recipe for the low sugar jam, I can use it because Mom and Brother in Law are diabetic.

Caffeinated Mom said...

Erin - Canning is definitely more difficult (and scary) with kids under foot.. I'm hoping to have enough tomatoes for canning this year. If only my tomatoes could be a prolific as yours!

Granny - How lucky you are to have a neighbor with a peach tree! You'd think in Georgia I'd be more likely to have one, too, but no such luck! I bet those peaches are going to be wonderful - you can't be local, right off the tree, and pesticide free!

Da Bearded One - Here is the recipe (it's from the Ball Blue Book of Canning):

- 5C finely chopped, peeled, pitted peaches
- 1C Unsweetened white grape juice
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 package no sugar needed powdered pectin

Combine all ingredients in a large saucepot, stirring to dissolve pectin. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Add sweetener according to pectin package, if desired (this is where I added 1/2C at a time, until I acheived the flavor I wanted). Boil 1 minute, stirring constantly. If gel starts to form before 1 minute is complete, remove from heat. Ladle hot jam into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Adjust two piece caps. Process 10 minutes in a boiling water canner.

* Note: I don't think I sliced my peaches quite small enough, so after combining all the ingredients, I ran about half of the jam through my food processor to give it a slightly smoother texture.

Let me know if you have any questions - hope this is helpful!

Mixer Mary said...

Wow you really have been busy! That lot looks gorgeous - we never seem to get such good peaches here, at least not in any quantity.