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can it.

August 17, 2010

(I really want to say, ‘Can it, Giada’ because she’s on in the background, but instead, I’ll just mute her and listen to Arcade Fire whilst I type.)

So!  I have a bunch of food I want to show you, but I want to show you something else first.  I learned how to can last summer when I borrowed my mom’s old-as-the-hills pressure canner.  I canned green beans and marinara (from scratch) and peaches.  But then she wanted it back!  I know, right!  (Kidding, Mom.  [yes, my mom reads my blog.])  Then, recently, I bought a boiling water canner for myself.  Not one to dabble with botulism, I decided to start off and get awesome at canning fruits, jams, spreads, what-have-you until I can afford to get a giant pressure cooker/canner of my very own.  Anyway, my point is that I bought this ridiculous amount of canner peaches from the farmers market Saturday morning and I’ve been scrambling ever since to use up as many as I could before they went bad (I feel a little cheated, under the top layer were a bunch of peaches that were seriously ready to be trashed).  Here is a little photo diary of my canning experience.

bobbing for peaches would be so rad

Here, they are.  My beauties.  After 2 full days of canning, I hated them (almost), but this was love.  I cut out all their bad spots, washed them, then blanched ’em and shocked them in some cold water.  I then had to peel peel peel them all.  If was like they were multiplying.  The neverending peach pile.

not as cute now, eh?

Still, I love the way peeled peaches feel in my hands.  All soft and slippery.  The fruit of the earth, right there at your fingertips.  From here, they got sliced.  By the way, it’s totally dangerous, but I just sliced these, wet hands and all, straight out of the water.  I did not use a cutting board.  And apparently my knife was pretty dull, since I didn’t actually cut myself.  Win!

hello, lovelies.

And now they’re pretty again.  The insides of peaches are just beautiful.  The pink tinge towards the pit gets me in the gut every time.  Yeah, I’m one of those people.  The kind that will tear up at the beauty of nature, but never shed a tear over a Meryl Streep movie or whatever.  (side note: robots with human personality traits do make me cry.  cannot ever ever watch short circuit or wall-e.  ever.  i wonder what this says about me, as a person.)  Anywho, time to cook.  From here to the actual canning process is really a breeze.  It’s all that peeling and slicing (and de-seeding if you’re making marinara) that takes loads of time.

busy stovetop

This is actually a continuity issue.  I made peach preserves, too, and this is them bubbling away on the stove with the lids and the canner sharing the same space.  I like to think that here is where a gas stove would really come in handy.  I learned to cook on a gas stove.  And then I moved and I’ve never had one since.  It sucks, and it took me a really long time to learn that electric burners take forever to cool down and consequently I burned many meals, which was lame.  Anyway.  I am only going to briefly mention the preserves because they turned out just as well as the stupid picture of them did:

frustration

I thought something was off when the recipe called for 4 cups of peaches and then 7 cups of sugar.  ???  look how few peaches there are in comparison to the syrup in there!  I was on the phone with my mom while all this was going on, and she can probably atest to the fact that I was pretty pissed off about it.  Anyway.  *ahem*  We’re talking about my successes here, not my failures (ok, really, it’s the recipe’s failure, amiright?).  But just for fun, here’s another quick photo of the preserves cooking because they really were so pretty before they got all effed up.

Back to the peach butter, which turned out wonderful.  Here’s a picture of it cooking, by the way:

not as pretty

Yeah, not quite as appetizing, but let me tell you, kids, it’s amazing.  Not to toot my own horn.  But if you are a fan of nutmeg and peaches, you are a fan of my peach butter.  So yeah.  This is it all blended up with the sugar (a much more reasonable 4 cups) and spices added.  I had to cook it until it ’rounded up on a spoon’.  Ah.  Well…being rather new (first timer) at making butter/jam/preserves/whatever, I had no idea what that meant.  I tried calling my mom, but she didn’t answer (but she did call me back so I could bitch to her about the preserves, at least).  Google saved me though, and told me the most basic ‘duh’ moment of my day: it literally means a rounded spoonful.  Like, how water just falls off and is even?  And how jam doesn’t do that?  Yeah, that.  Oh!  Like this!

ohhhh, that.

Yes.  Then comes the putting it into jars bit, which is very methodical and wonderful, but doesn’t really leave much time to getting photographs in there.  I truly meant (all 3 turns of butter/preserves) to get a photo of them in the canner, but it never happened.  Oh well.  When I make and can applesauce later (as in, next month) I’ll make it a goal to do just that.  To make amends, here is a gratuitous image of the end product, which you also saw at the very top of the post.

I’d just like to say that not a single one of my jars didn’t seal and nothing broke, and I ended up with enough peach butter to have an extra (un-canned) jar for myself and the omni boyfriend (who really, really likes it).  In fact, it was a part of my (balanced?) breakfast this…morning (ok, afternoon).

see? there in the background?

Yep, on my barely toasted toast (I’m way too impatient to wait for toast to get as dark as I really like it, which is a shame).  This, by the way, is a version of the Swampy Tofu Scramble from the Cajun cookzine (this is the flickr page, but I’m honestly not sure how you even go about ordering it) I tested for last year.  It’s awesome.  I used swiss chard from my parents’ garden in it.  And that’s a tomato from their garden on my other piece of toast (with some ramp mustard yummm).  Oh!  And this is local tofu, too!  I was weirded out because it smelled fishy when I was crumbling it, but upon further inspection it turns out that they use some sort of sea veggie to coagulate their tofu, so it’s cool.  And that salad in the background?  I’ll tell you about it later, but I will admit that after my second piece of toast, I couldn’t eat it.  Which is ok because it was leftovers from dinner last night anyway and was a little soggy.

The point?  Can things!  It’s seriously so easy if you can read and follow instructions.  And inexpensive in the long run.  I’m going to be enjoying lovely peaches in December when others will be paying top dollar for that same pleasure (except their peaches will be out of season and suck).  This goes hand-in-hand with freezing the abundance of summer produce.  If I had one of those badass chest freezers (someday!), it would be so full of awesome stuff by now.  Le sigh.  Maybe next year.  This is a start though.  Back to my roots.  And loving it.

(fun note: wordpress spellcheck doesn’t recognize the word ‘marinara’ this week.  um.)

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14 Comments leave one →
  1. August 17, 2010 10:21 pm

    This post fills me to the brim (and then over the top!) with canning glee!!!! Your peachy rewards are beautiful!!! I had a big list of canning to-dos this summer and have fallen behind… Pickles are in my near future though! What’s up next for you?!

    Annnnnnnnnnnd, hooray for purchasing your very own canner! I treat mine like a goddess!

    • August 17, 2010 10:57 pm

      my mom made pickles, and i’m jealous! (no pickling cukes at my farmers market of course.) next up will be apples, i suppose. apple butter, apple sauce, apple…what else? i kind of just want spiced apple chunks in light syrup. i’m sure i can manage that. the thing is, fruit at my market is still silly expensive. unlike veggies. i really should have just gotten a pressure canner, but i’m making it work!

  2. August 18, 2010 4:51 pm

    gah, i wish i enjoyed this type of activity! it seems so rewarding. i always think that once i settle down with a home/apt of my own (with or w/o a partner…usually i imagine with), i’ll be excited to do this…but, honestly, i probably won’t.

    • August 18, 2010 9:28 pm

      i never did it until i settled down a little with my life. it becomes something you love, i promise.

  3. August 19, 2010 12:27 am

    Very awesome! I have wanted to learn how to can things for ages, but I am always a bit wary of killing us all with botulism. Most of the recipes I have do not call for any sort of canner type apparatus, they just have you pour the stuff into sterilised jars and close… I will be interested to see pictures of the canner when you make your apple sauce.

  4. saveyrgeneration permalink
    August 20, 2010 2:39 am

    I can’t stand Giada or the way she pronounces various Italian ingredients.

  5. August 22, 2010 12:57 am

    Yay! Hooray for canning things! Your peach butter looks fabulous! You can email anytime with canning questions- I’m happy to help! lizardjoy at gmail dot com

  6. jodye717 permalink
    August 23, 2010 12:32 am

    The peach butter sounds wonderful! I’m already in love with both apple and pear butter, so I guess I’d better make room for the peaches! I’ve been dreaming about canning for a long time and have yet to actually do it, but I’m thinking that peach butter will be my first project!

  7. August 23, 2010 12:33 am

    Oh and sorry to comment twice, but your breakfast looks amazing whether the toast is dark enough or not!

  8. August 28, 2010 9:15 pm

    Ah, how I want to give canning a try, too…! Your post is very inspiring, and it makes me wish that the days were twice as long so that I could squeeze another project in. Sigh, I guess I’ll just be dreaming of peach butter for another year…

  9. August 30, 2010 2:54 am

    Beautiful pictures! I have peach jealousy right now. And canning jealousy. You’re going to be pointing and laughing when you see those poor suckers buying canned peaches in winter! 😀

    Sorry I hadn’t noticed that you moved before, I’m updating my reader and my blogroll now.

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