Good morning from the Hilltop.
As I began my day today, I tried to determine what I was going to eat. Today is a day I’m home with my son. After making sure my daughter got on the bus for the day and the little man was playing, I began the thought process of what am I going to eat.
I remembered I reorganized my pantry just this weekend and still had approximately a dozen jars of peaches. I can’t explain it, but peaches sounded good. I sat down with my cup of black coffee and bowl full of peaches my mom and I canned last summer.
As I ate, I thought about canning more this year. When we initially canned the bushel, along with making some pie fillings, I was amazed at how much we were able to can. It ended up being approximately three dozen jars of peaches, 1/2 dozen jars of pie filling, three freezer bags full of pie filling, and still enough to make about a dozen jars of peach jelly. Last August I was fairly sure I had more than needed.
We found so many uses for these peaches this year. I added a jar in Christmas and New Year’s “Breakfast Baskets” we made for family members, neighbors and my daughter’s teachers. The jelly was in our “Jacobs Jelly of the Month” and we ate the peaches. Funny enough, while my husband and I enjoyed them, and our kids said they were okay, we used them more when I had kids over babysitting. Super easy snack for all!
The pie filling made for quick and easy desserts that I could take to various events. It’s been great having this readily accessible bounty here.
Do you preserve your food? Whether you do or you don’t already, here are a few easy foods to can while they are in season over the summer.
Peaches (or Pears)
Starting out with the obvious, considering adding peaches to your pantry this year.
(Pears make a great alternative here.) Peaches are an easy way to start out if you’ve never canned before, and something even kids can generally assist with. They can be processed using water bath canning. You can add a simply syrup (typically a little boiled sugar water) that is darken (or sweetened) to your liking.
Plus, as the summer progresses, you are typically able to find a handful of orchards, farm stands or U-Pick farms you can pick your own bushel. Buying in bulk is normally cheaper and with a little elbow grease you can have canned fruit to last through the year.
If you are like me, you like a little heat in your food occasionally. So each year in my garden, I plant a jalapeno plant or two. Then towards the end of the summer an explosion happens in my garden and I’m getting (15) to (25) jalapenos a day. Now, my husband and I like heat in our food, but that’s extreme.
This past year I canned varying hot peppers from our garden. This is another water bath canning that doesn’t require much beyond vinegar, water, and salt. And a lot of jalapenos fit into one jar. So every couple days you can a jar or two.
This was another food I was surprised with while I was in my pantry this past weekend. I only have one jar left, and I believe we started with (7) or (8) 16oz. jars. For someone who rarely buys hot peppers from the grocery store, that’s a high consumption.
A few of you are turning your nose up at me now. I never used to be a beet eater either, but I’ve seen the light!
Regardless, adding canned beets to your pantry is an easy addition. Depending on the recipe you use, the ingredients will vary. Cooking them down is not hard, no different than making a basic soup. Water bath is the method for canning again. I even made a few last year that were refrigerator canned (this method does not last as long).
Beets add immense flavor to your salads. Consider preserving a few from your early spring or fall garden so you can enjoy them in winter months.
Between the time I started canning two years ago to now I can tell you we’ve enjoyed the family time around canning. While canning is not hard, it does take time. Many hands make light work, so we work as a family.
It’s been a pleasant surprise how much our extended family has enjoyed our canning as well. We enjoy sending some one with family and friends as they find out we can various items that appeal to their taste buds. We’ve used them as gifts or most regularly as part of our food supply.
Canning, while time consuming, has made us realize we have food at home. We eat out significantly less than we did five years ago. We know that we are able to make something from what we have here already.
As a mom, it makes me happy to know what I’m providing my family has not been processed hundreds of miles away. It was either grown locally, or in my backyard, and I know the other ingredients in it. I’m not feeding my family anything harmful to them.
Consider canning an item or two this year. Or if you’re already canning, consider stepping out and trying a new item.
We’ll keep you posted on our additions this year. Until then, I’ll be heading back to my coffee, for my peaches are already devoured. Cheers!