Friday, September 3, 2010

15 pounds of peaches!

If you read the post below, you'll remember that I've been volunteering at the Farmer's Market on Wednesday's this summer. I was able to get a smoking deal on 15 pound of organic peaches, so my good friend Steph and I decided to spend an afternoon dong some good 'ol fashioned canning and preserving.

We decided to really go for it and do up some tomatoes at the same time. I talked to Anna-Marie (one of the owners of the farm) about a price for the tomatoes and she said if we didn't mind "seconds", then we could just have a bunch for free. Well by the end of the day that added up to about 25 pounds of tomatoes! There was nothing wrong with the majority of these tomatoes, they were just too ripe, slightly squished, or just plain ugly. Perfect for canning!

Part of the deal with the peaches was that I picked the "ugly" ones too. But the interesting thing about those marks on the peaches is that it's a result of tree bore. As the peaches grow, some of them rub on the branch and in order to close the wound, the tree sends extra sap to that area to close and seal off the wound. This actually makes the peaches sweeter, due to the extra sap. So the next time you see a peach with sort of dark amber-like crystalized marks on the top - grab it!

Steph and I started at 1pm, slicing and pureeing the peaches. If this photo has a bit of a chartreuse cast to it, it's because Steph's kitchen walls are chartreuse, her enameled pot is chartreuse, and that day her T-shirt was also chartreuse.

We decided to make a peach-Amaretto sauce with the peaches because, well, what's not to love about that combination!? Here's Steph pouring in the Amaretto. The recipe called for 6 cups of sugar, we used 4. It also called for a whole bottle of Amaretto, but the peaches were already so sweet and tasty that we only used half. Even with that, the sauce ended up very sweet - but delicious!

Next up, the tomatoes. My original idea was to roast all the tomatoes with garlic, then squish 'em up and jar them. But there were so many tomatoes and Steph's stove is tiny so we ended up doing a combination of both stovetop and roasted. Two batches got boiled down on the stove, two more got roasted in the oven, then we blended them all together. We never bothered with the blanching and peeling that you're supposed to do to get rid of the skins because these jars of sauce meant for our personal consumption (as opposed to gifts). When I use a jar, all I have to do is bust out the hand blender and blend it all together to get rid of the skins. So much faster that way.

It took about 5 solid hours of work and yielded us about 20 one-cup jars of peach sauce, and about 18 2-cup jars of tomatoes. It's amazing to me that people (well, let's face it, women) used to do this for days and weeks on end in order to put up enough preserves to feed the family through the winter. I wonder why we bother with the home canning when you can walk into any grocery store and pick up a can of organic tomato sauce for $2.99 or so. I have no idea why I have this mild obsession with food preservation, but I do know it just gives me pleasure when I look at those jars. Or take a peek into my freezer full of beans and carrots that I have blanched, chopped and frozen - all ready to pop into a winter soup, stew or curry. I guess I feel like it's my way of contributing . . . something? It feels strangely more substantial than making pretty jewelry. Maybe it's the classic Cancer trait of wanting and needing to nourish, feed and nurture? Any other Cancer's out there, give me a shout out in the comments and tell me if you have similar feelings, m'kay?


Karen DW said...

This last week has been great for canning; temperatures not as hot outside as previously. Great job w/ all the peaches and tomatoes.
One "side benefit" of home-canning is that you are able to choose the container size. So, for our small household, I like the 1 cup/250 ml jars. 1 jar=1 meal.
Keep on canning!

Poppy said...

I'm a Cancer too, and I am EXACTLY the same way with food! I love preserving and baking & cooking...even though I know I can walk across the street and buy the same thing already made. Part of it I think, is that I like to know exactly what is in the food I am buying...and we don't always get the real truth when it comes to ready made canned foods.