I have been very busy in both my kitchen and garden lately.
When my mother, sister and her family moved to Double S Farms, I had no idea that I would soon be the grateful receiver of their bountiful harvest of apples, peaches and plums.
I enjoyed learning how to preserve fruit. My only complaint is that I wish that I didn’t have to do it in the summer….my kitchen gets quite warm.
My latest Birds & Blooms blog post is sure to bring a smile…
What Do You Do With a Dirty Chicken?
I am almost ashamed to admit it, but I sometimes have trouble remembering what gifts I received a year ago for Christmas. Does that happen to you too? It’s not that I am not happy with the gifts……I am frequently amazed at the creativity and thoughtfulness of the giver. But sometimes all I can handle is just trying to keep up with my 5 kids and my husband so many other things get pushed onto a back shelf inside my brain.
There have been extra special Christmas gifts that I have received that stick out in my mind. Not because they were particularly expensive but because they were long lasting. Each time I would use or look upon the gift, I would remember the thoughtfulness of the giver.
One of my favorite Christmas memories involve my dad and mother. Each year my dad would give my mother something special for Christmas. He would usually ask one of his daughters to wrap it for him and I can remember the happiness on his face when he would give my mother her gift.
After my father passed away a few years ago, my siblings and I started a new tradition – in addition to our individual gifts to our mother, we also joined together to give her a gift from all of us on behalf of my father, who is no longer here.
We have had a lot of fun thinking of ideas of what to give her each year. This year we decided to give her two Apricot trees. You see, my mother loves to can fruit. Double S Farms, where she lives, has apple, peach, plum, kumquat, lemon, grapefruit, almond and pecan trees.
Back in January, I helped prune these neglected peach trees with my brother-in-law, Farmer Dad and blogged about it – Three Neglected Peach Trees. As the tiny fruits started to form, my sister, Chicken Farmer, thinned out the peaches. The result was that the peaches this year were much larger.
I am a novice when it comes to canning and making jam, so I was anxious to learn. First we blanched the peaches (put them in boiling water for 30 seconds and then plunged them into ice water). It was very easy to remove the skins and then we cut them up into pieces.
Her job was to constantly stir the peaches. A trick that my mother learned was to put a tablespoon of butter in the peaches, to reduce the foam and scum that floats to the top. It really worked. Then I added the sugar and we boiled the peaches for 1 minute on high heat.
The fragrance from the peaches was just delicious.
Now, came the technical part….putting the jam into the jars without contaminating them.
My mother bought a canning kit, which came with tongs for the jars, a funnel, a magnet and much more. She carefully measured the jam until it was within 1/4″ of the top. Then Rachele and I did the same.
I realize that I am not in any of these pictures, but I promise, that I was working hard too 🙂
Rachele carefully wiped the rims to make sure they were clean.
Okay, I think this is really cool. The canning kit included a magnet that you could use to take the lids out of the boiling water, which makes it even easier not to touch them or get your fingers burned.
We were almost done!
All of the jars sealed perfectly. At this point, I was searching for the nearest loaf of bread so I could enjoy our new jam.
I had such a great time spending time with my mom and daughter and learning something new.
Now that I have had a lesson in making peach jam, I can hardly wait to make plum jam. They are almost ripe….
**You can learn how to can and make your own jam. The National Center for Home Food Preservation has a great website with step-by-step tutorials.