This week’s to do list has been suffering, because of interruptions. It’s a good thing though. Late Summer is one of my favorite times of the year, with the weather cooler and the farmer’s markets full to overflowing with wonderful produce. It’s time to can! Don’t these peaches look great?
Not so much! We bought them on Saturday, rock hard, and I have been waiting for them to ripen. When they did, I went into action, canning our favorite winter treat – spiced peach halves.
I make a very light sugar syrup and put the peach halves into it as it warms on the stove top. This also keeps the peaches from browning. When the pot is full, I scoop up the halves and fill the jars and then pour the hot syrup into the jar. The little trick, that I learned many moons ago, is to add 3 -4 whole cloves. Seal them up, process in a boiling water bath – easy peasy!
We don’t open the canned goods until after Christmas to celebrate the beginning of winter and it is such a treat. The peaches have sat marinating in the cloves and they have a hint of spice in each bite. Several peach halves with cottage cheese is truly delightful! Peter calls the peaches “Summer in a jar”.
Also on Saturday, I found a stall with very nice looking pickling cucumbers. Obviously most people do not know what to do with a pickling cuke and so the ones I had seen at other markets were spoiled and nasty looking. I eyeball the length of the cuke – I want it to be about the length of a half pint jar. No point in wasting it. I enjoy making these pickles as it’s the easiest recipe I’ve ever found. They are spears, so I cut the ends off and slice them. Into a bowl they go, covered with boiling water for 2 hours.
As they sit, I make a syrup recipe, with vinegar and sugar and spices, and I get that boiling. After 2 hours, I drain the cuke spears and pack them in warm jars. I’ve found it’s easiest to pack with the jar on its side. I keep a knife nearby to trim the ends that may be too long. Then I fill the jar with boiling syrup, wipe the rim and add the lid. After the jars are processed in a boiling water bath, they cool for the night.
This morning I wiped the jars clean of sticky juice and labeled them. I “designed” these on My Own Labels. Now all the peaches and pickles are in a dark closet waiting for January.
And next it’s time to clean the cooker top and mop the floor. There is gooey business everywhere, it seems. It takes several buckets to really get the stickiness off, but it is oh so worth it.