It must be time to store up the nuts for the winter because I have got a serious hankering to do some food preservation...
Tuesday morning I walked 5 miles in Bingham Canyon with my friends Shelly, Sherry, and Heather. I should have known that was enough time on my feet, but I'd gotten myself all psyched to bottle peaches during the previous week. I bought a 28 pound box for $20 at the West Jordan farmer's market. I think this was a little high, but my other choice was $28 for 32 pounds. You do the math.
I only ate a couple of peaches in the prep process and found out from Jon that the boys had been grabbing them out of the garage while I'd left them out there to ripen. Well, I only got 13 quarts - not nearly enough to last my guys until next year, so after I was finished, I dashed back to the farmer's market (it's only there on Tuesday's from 3-7) and bought another box. Like I can psyche myself up for that again...
We had some with grilled cheese tonight for dinner (the boys are all about dipping the sandwiches in the juice), and all of them told me the peaches were too sweet. Dang. My FIL's peaches are always a little bit tart (sorry Dad), so I figured I'd use a light syrup (4 cups water/2 cups sugar according to my beloved JOY OF COOKING). Problem is that these peaches were so sweet anyway that even the light syrup is just || this much over the top.
Oh well. I've got another whole box to do. I'll taste those peaches first and adjust the syrup accordingly. I suppose I could make some peach jam like my lovely cousin, Miranda...
I just don't think I have enough freezer space for more jam. I did lots of batches of berry jams this year - 2 raspberry, 2 boysenberry, 1 blackberry, and 3 mixed berry using the leftovers and a bag of frozen berries from Costco. See last year's jam post in re JAM POOP and diverticulitis. Note that the date of that post was Oct 21 - I've still got a month to go...
The blackberry batch set so quickly and firmly that I almost couldn't get it into the jars. I had one batch of raspberry and one batch of boysenberry that didn't set. I called my mom (which seems to be the common trait in canning stories - having to call a relative) and asked her what I should do. She told me that my grandma would call the 1-800 number on the package.
So, after going back to the store to get more pectin (had to use Sure Jell [ok it was actually the store brand of Sure-Jell - "Can-Jell" $1.35/package to Sure-Jell's $2.63/package] because my local Smith's doesn't carry MCP) and some nifty freezer containers (have you seen these things? The 1 cup variety have a purple lid, and they are threaded on the inside of the jar so that you can easily stack the jars with a type of locking action - very swift). Where was I?
Oh yes. I got more pectin and more containers and called Sure-Jell. They told me that I needed to do a test jar - prepare the pectin, add 2 Tbsp sugar, and 1 Tbsp pectin to the jam, let it sit for another 24 hours, and then do the rest of the batch if that worked. Hah! If I'm going to go through all of that, why would I only do one jar - why not just do the entire batch? So, I dumped the raspberry jam into one bowl, and the boysenberry into another. I washed all of the containers, prepped the pectin (in 2 separate pans - 1 for each batch). Added 1 cup of sugar (that's 2 Tbsp per cup of jam, 8 cups of jam per batch, so 16 Tbsp or 1 cup - did the math for you that time 8^)) and added the pectin. The sugar dissolved beautifully, and I figured that we were on our way to set jam.
The raspberry set just fine. The boysenberry did not. At this point, I was not going to add more sugar to that fruit, so it looks like I ended up with a batch of boysenberry syrup.
I gave a jar of each to Mindy, Griff's daycare lady, and she gave me a bottle of peach-raspberry. She didn't even use pectin in hers. She had a recipe that used unflavored gelatin! What part of Idaho did she come from???
So - now I'm sitting here nursing the blisters on the back of my feet from Tuesday's walk, finally able to walk up and down the stairs without my hips screaming in agony, feeling the pressure of that other box of peaches, and mysteriously still wanting to do applesauce.
I found a source for macintosh apples in Logan, and I get to call on Monday to find out when they're ready.... Oh the anticipation.
Now if I could only figure out my Grandma Egan's chili recipe and bottle up some of that. But let's not get ahead of ourselves.