19 July 2011

Peachy Keen

After taking care of the blueberries, I turned to lots and lots of peaches.  It wasn’t until I got into the third box of peaches that I discovered the brochures that the Tree Ripe folks had tucked in and learned that our blueberries had come from Luduc Blueberries in Paw Paw, Michigan and the peaches came from Pearson Farms in Georgia.

I started with Blushing Peach Almond Conserves, which is a freezer jam with toasted almonds and almond flavoring that I had made last year.  I learned my lessons from last year and packaged it in tiny jars as I discovered that it gets brown and tastes funny after being in the refrigerator even a few days.  It is completely yummy so it was extremely tragical to have to throw away stuff that had gone icky.

Next up was Zesty Peach Barbecue sauce.  Also extremely yummy and a half-pint has already been used on pulled chicken in the crockpot.  In the process of perusing peach recipes and flipping around in my canning cookbook I found a helpful tip that complete altered my life.  It turns out that you can peel peaches the same way as tomatoes…by dunking them in boiling water for about 30 seconds and then the skin practically slides off.  After some trial and error—if you go too long, the skin pretty much falls off and it is almost impossible to cut the peach in half and remove the pit since the peach is so slippery; if you don’t dip long enough, picking off the skin is annoying and piddly—I had honed halving, pitting, and peeling to a fine art.  When not distracted by kids or animals, I could do close to three peaches a minute.  Last year I peeled all the peaches with a paring knife and was almost ready to fling myself off something tall by the time I had gotten through all of them.

I applied my mad prep skills in putting up 14 quarts of peach slices in light syrup and 8 pints of honey spiced peach slices.  The leftover honey syrup practically begged to have more peach flavor and be put in iced tea.  There was enough left over that I made a couple small batches of peach juice to mix with the syrup and freeze.  The juicing left some lovely pulp that I pureed with a bit of honey to make fruit leather in the dehydrator.  I put the fruit leather slices on wax paper and then into baggies which went into the freezer.  They will provide a lovely taste of peachy goodness for snacks at open gym or running errands this winter.  When apple season rolls around, those will make great fruit leather as well.

The last few peaches got peeled, pitted, halved, dipped in lemon water and frozen on cookie sheets before going into two half-gallon canning jars in the freezers.  These will be great for smoothies or, as I discovered while packaging them up, a tasty frozen snack for the dog days of summer.

In between, I made two peach upside-down cakes, a couple batches of raspberry/peach popsicles (raspberries came from our CSA), and all of us just plain chowed down plain peaches.  Next Wednesday, the Tree Ripe folks will be back in Stoughton.  I am planning on getting more peaches and blueberries.  I would like to can both peach and blueberry pie filling, do a few more quarts of peach slices in light syrup, more blueberry syrup and butter, and more dehydrated and frozen blueberries!

08 July 2011

Feeling kind of blue

No, not that kind of blue…blueberry blue.  And based on how many I have eaten, I might be looking at least a little blue as well!  The truck we bought Georgia peaches from last year also had Michigan blueberries this year, so last Wednesday, the kids and I trekked to the local bowling alley and came home with 15 pounds of blueberries and 1.5 bushels of peaches.  In addition to all of us eating a lot of blueberries, I also managed to put away a quart of frozen berries, two pints of dehydrated blueberries, 3½ pints of blueberry syrup, and 4 half-pints and one quarter-pint of blueberry butter.  The blueberry syrup and butter come from one recipe…the berries are cooked down, the juice and pulp separated and then the syrup is made from the juice and the butter is made from the pulp.  The truck will be back once more at the end of the month and I really hope I can get more blueberries then!  I would love to do at least one more batch of the syrup/butter and freeze some more!
Since the peaches need at least a couple of days to start softening up, I have only made a dent in those.  Collectively, we have eaten quite a few and I have put up 7 half-pints of zesty peach barbecue sauce.  Tonight I will be doing some blushing almond peach freezer jam.  In the morning, I am planning on making a peach upside-down cake for a homeschool potluck tomorrow afternoon and evening and possibly start canning quarts of peach slices.  There will be a whole bunch of peach slices as we went through them VERY fast last winter!.  I will hopefully also get some frozen slices or chunks and maybe a couple batches of fruit leather…we’ll see!

ETA:  Blueberries came from Leduc Blueberries in Paw Paw, Michigan