Just so you don't think I'm perfect... here's a peachy comedy of errors.
I scored a big time freegan score, and got permission to pick a tree clean of peaches the other day. The whole time I was picking the peaches, this street person kept bothering me. I gave him some peaches but he didn't go away until I loaded up my peaches and left. He didn't want money, I don't think - just to talk to someone maybe. Harmless but a bit distracting. So I have this banker box full of smallish peaches. I thought they were a bit firm still so when I got home I harvested my basil instead of deal with the peaches.
I have so much basil this year that I hung up about 12 bunches of it on an indoor clothesline, plus made a jar of fresh basil and olive oil for the fridge with the little leaves that were left on the seed stems I cut off. The seed stems filled a very large mixing bowl to heaping. Now they're in a paper shopping bag. This year's basil was all volunteer from seeds that fell on the ground last year. It was everywhere. I had a big patch of it the way I also have a mint patch. I didn't uproot it, I just cut it, so who knows, maybe it will keep growing and I'll get a second crop. I have coffee cans full of basil seeds going back to 2008 - maybe I should start a basil farm. I still have frozen pesto left over from last year, too.
Back to the peaches: Having had a couple at lunch today, I thought they were ripe. And I thought I was going to preserve them all in one night. WRONNNNNG. I started making peach jam but it was a real pain in the petunia. I blanched about 20 peaches for 20 seconds. It didn't loosen their skins. I put them back 3 or 4 times, each time boiling them for longer. The skins didn't get loose even after 5 minutes of boiling. I ran out of ice with the first dip because someone (me) didn't refill the ice tray, or it evaporated. Should have bought ice. So I got out one of those blue plastic ice things you put in a cooler out of the freezer and threw that in the bowl of water. It only sort of helped.
I decided I should skin and de-stone the peaches with a knife instead of try to keep boiling the skin loose. The slimy peaches kept escaping and having to be rinsed off. The floor got sticky. The pits didn't come out easy either. I needed a lifeline! (I think that's what they call it in that game show) So I called my friend the gardening and canning nut. She said, there's two kinds of peaches, the hard kind and the easy kind. I guess I got the hard kind! Anyway, I did 40 peaches - 2 batches. Ended up with about 6 cups of cut, peeled, destoned peaches. The recipe called for 4 cups so I still have all these peaches that I think will end up in a pie. Plus about 3/4 of a banker box of whole, raw ones left to go. I guess it's a good problem to have.
So then I made the jam. It went fine except the peaches just wouldn't break down. I boiled them a lot and they just stayed looking like cut up peaches. I got a potato masher out, and then they just looked like little cubes. Even when I cooked them a good long time. So I have peach chunks in pectin-y goo. Not sure if that qualifies as jam. Maybe more like peach marmalade.
I put the goo in jars and got 2 1/2 pints. Figured I'd use the half pint myself now, put up a pint, and give one pint to the guy who let me pick his tree, then make some kind of peach thing in the early morning for the office with the other 2 cups that didn't become jam.
So then, just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, it was time for the water bath. The half jar floated so I just stuck it in the fridge instead. One of my jars of jam opened in the water bath. Apparently not all jar rings are created equal. I must have had one jar that was a mismatch to the threads in the rings I had, or maybe it got cross threaded. It popped off in the water bath. So I had to fish out the jar and find another ring and lid, and try again. The popped off jar lid is still in the water bath. I suspect the plasticky liner is done for because it boiled for so long, but hey it's only a jar lid. Maybe I'll use that one on a jar of dried basil.
Pulling the jars out, the one with the odd ring kept slipping the tongs and falling back in. Think I'll get a jar lifter tomorrow.
Gee, only like 150 more peaches to go. Hooray! and there's another peach tree to pick, too. Maybe I'll can them whole this time. Dehydrate some, too. Also, my roommate knows where there's an abandoned pear tree full of fruit. We'll be real regular this winter, I suspect.
By contrast, the apple tree next door where I got 12 quarts of applesauce off it last year, only has two apples hanging on it this year. The poor thing. I guess it needed a rest. (I better watch out for Lord Summerisle next May). Same with my grapevine - no fruit this year. Some years are good for some crops and bad for others. If you are depending on a garden to eat, plant a wide variety of stuff.
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