Well, okay, maybe not millions...
...but I do have 14 quarts of canned peaches in my pantry now!
My best friend, Alicia, and I decided to have a peach-canning bee on Saturday. Actually, when she took me out for coffee for my birthday Thursday night, I whined about still feeling somewhat overwhelmed by the idea despite having done some with my mother-in-law not that long ago (7 quarts of cherries), and she took pity on me. I'm so lucky to have a friend who's so well versed in the more traditional homemaking arts, like sewing, gardening, canning, etc. The lucky part being, of course, that she's actually willing to teach me!
Peaches were on sale in our neck of the woods last week, so when The Bushman was in town on Friday, he picked us each up a 20-lb case. On Saturday, I washed up my quart jars, bought some new snaps and lids (which turned out to be too small ~ fortunately, she had enough in her own pantry!!), and packed everything into the van and headed over to her place.
First, we measured 3/4 c. sugar into each jar.
And then we peeled and cut up peaches. The skin is supposed to neatly peel off when you dunk them in hot or boiling water, but that was not the case with our peaches. We actually had to peel them like potatoes even though they were ripe. With the two of us working at it though, it didn't take too long.
In the mean time, we sterilized the snap lids in a small pot on the stove and also added about a cup of boiling water to each jar, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Then the jars were ready for the peach pieces.
After jamming as many as we could into each one (it feels like you really have to mash 'em in there, but one case of 48 peaches fits quite perfectly into 14 quart jars ~ two full canners), we wiped the jar mouths clean and dry, topped them with the sterilized snaps, and fastened the rings as tightly as we could. Ready for the canner!
The water had already been boiling, but because of the flat-top stove, it took a long time to get the canner boiling again once the jars were inside. But once it was, the jars boiled for 15 minutes.
And then they come out looking like this, all sweet and golden and beautiful and whatnot!!
All of hers sealed, but I had one that didn't, so it sat in my fridge until being happily devoured last night. YUM!!!!
After we'd cleaned everything up, we had a wonderful picnic supper there ~ burgers, hotdogs cooked over an open fire, tacos and dip, macaroni salad, and a watermelon I'd brought from home. It was a beautiful evening; warm, sunny, and no bugs!! Perfect for sitting outside and enjoying friends.
She'd used paper plates and plastic cutlery, so there were very few dishes to wash and afterwards, while the men went quadding and the kids played either in the basement or outside, we went for a nice long walk and enjoyed each other's company for a few more minutes before I packed up my kids, my leftover sugar, and my freshly-canned peaches and headed home to get the girls into bed.
I wonder if this is how young farm wives would have done it 50 years ago? (I wonder if there was such a thing as a 30-something farm wife 50 years ago who didn't know how to preserve fruit... haha, probably not!) As we reflected on some of the lost arts of homemaking, I think we both decided to make more of an effort to pass some of these things on to our girls, if for no other reason than to preserve a bit of tradition. (no pun intended!!)
I'm not a busy woman by any stretch of the imagination, but it was good to slow down a bit, take a peak into yester-year, and do something "old-fashioned" for our families.
Not to mention, canning peaches together was faster and infinitely more fun than doing it alone!