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These past couple of weeks have been busy and there’s been a LOT of late nights, but it’s been worth it. At the beginning of this week, we were able to can some peaches with my Grandparents. We’ll often make home-canned goodies, and give a couple of jars away to friends and family, it’s just something that we do on a regular basis. But this time we were able to give several jars away and bring them into our process. Allowing them to see just how we do it and how everyone works together to get the job done.
And this weekend we’ll celebrate Independence Day!
This holiday and the accompanying festivities are the highlight of my Summer. Our local Rec Center’s Firework show is tomorrow night. We’ll be taking some fried chicken, sharable sides, cookies, and Patriotic M&M Peanuts and making a night of it! Honestly, though this weekend is going to be busy. Bradley goes into work all three days (including the fireworks show) and we have a long but fun errand to run tomorrow morning. The days are going to be long but fun, and the nights are going to be late. But I’m determined to enjoy it in all of its red, white, and blue glory!
My Grandparents arrived Sunday afternoon with their luggage, two boxes of peaches from The Peach Truck, and their little Doxen, Sampson in tow!
We spent a lot of Sunday visiting, watching Sampson (he’s 13 or14) run through the yard, and talking over a late chicken liver dinner.
Monday we got a slower start, got lunch in the crockpot and rice steamer, and shared a big waffle breakfast! Then it was time to get to work! When I say that in our house canning is a science, I’m not joking. We have a fairly efficient assembly line going. Everyone has a specific job to do; someone blanches, another peels, someone cuts, fills the jars, puts the lids and rings on, and places it in the water bather. And if one station is a little slow whoever’s not doing something at the moment steps in to help. Once everyone gets into the groove we can knock it out pretty quickly!
We’ve had this Ball BlueBook for years. It actually belonged to my Great-Grandma, who gave it to us when we started venturing into the world of canning!
I have scoured Amazon in search of the exact same book as it’s our number one canning resource. We use it for recipes, to know how long something stays in the Waterbath or Pressure canner, etc. I can’t find the exact same one, but I’m fairly confident THIS ONE is the updated one! I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS BOOK if you’re going to venture into the world of home canning!
We used this recipe, the recipe included for light fruit syrup, and the vinegar/salt solution to prevent browning. We started a few pots of water boiling/warming. One with the syrup, one with water to blanch the peaches, the lids were placed in a pan of water and warmed as well, and the Water Bather. Start heating this water on medium-ish heat as you begin to process the peaches. The jars will need to be placed in boiling water for 30 minutes. If you find that it’s starting to evaporate turn it down a little and add some water to keep it filled. Remember, that you want the jars completely submerged.
Also, when it comes to canning or preserving food. You can NEVER (and I mean NEVER) have too many canning jars or towels. Just trust me on this.
We often use a couple of large bath towels to put the cooling jars on and we’re always using kitchen towels to dry our hands, the counter, dishes that need to be washed or rinsed between batches, and to prevent sticky fruit juice from going all over the counter, etc.
We start by blanching the peaches in boiling water for about a minute and place them in a stockpot of ice water (unless you have the freezer space or a huge ice machine in your house buy a LARGE bag of ice). Once the peaches are cooled we peel the skins off–sometimes needing a paring knife, it just depends on how ripe the peaches are. Then we remove the pit and slice them. Making sure to place them in the vinegar/salt solution and then rinse them off. Then we filled the jars with the peaches, added syrup, wiped the rim, placed the lid and ring on, and put it in the water bather.
Once the water bather was filled we had 30 minutes before the next batch could go in.
We usually rested for about 10 minutes and then prepared for the next batch. Making another batch of syrup, replacing the blanching water, or adding ice to the ice bath. Placing more jars in the oven, rings on the counter, and lids in the warming water, and blanching the peaches. Then we repeated the same process a couple of more times until we had 20 peaches left. We placed those in the freeze-dryer along with some pineapple the other night.
I was doing a little research the other day and came across a recipe for peach jelly made from the skins, brown spots, and even the pits. We’ve never done this before but I wanted to give it a shot. We tried making it in our Jam/Jelly maker. Although we did decide to leave the pits out by personal choice. Here’s the recipe we’re basing ours on! We’re also using the Grape Jelly recipe that came with the Jam/Jelly Maker as well. We could never get the stovetop jelly and jams to turn out!
I was pretty surprised by how well it turned out given how easy it was to mix up. You just soak the discarded peaches in water for 24 hours. It doesn’t have a strong peachy flavor–maybe a hint of tartness, but it is good and it has a really pretty pinkish/red color! Be warned though. I just used a gallon of water to submerge the discarded peaches and we ended up with 20 jelly jars!
I find it interesting that out of all the parables and lessons Jesus taught while He was on earth, many of them had to do with gardening and harvesting.
And I can’t help but notice a few lessons from our Peach Canning Party. Each of us has been given special gifts by God to be used for His glory (Ephesians 2:10, 1 Corinthians 12:5-6, +1 Peter 4:10-11). Each of the jobs that He gives us is important and necessary to accomplish His purposes. In order to do our task well, we often need to be worked on like the peach. Our tough skins need removed, and our hard hearts need to be softened. God gently works with us to accomplish this as we spend time in His Word and prayer trying to live as He would have us to.
He’ll often do this through different challenges and struggles, gently transforming us into His image and molding us into who He’s made us to be (James 1:2-4, 2 Corinthians 3:18, Jeremiah 18:1-23). The process of change is hard and often uncomfortable. But in the end, it’ll be worth it.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me”
Until next time,