Sunday, July 15, 2012

What Good Luck, What Bad Luck!

This week, I was at Girls Camp with 125 girls, 12-18, from my stake. As a friend put it, they were "between the ages of 'pain in the neck' and 'trouble'." The week was great, of course! There were many spiritual moments, there is nothing like hearing this song sung by 125 young women's sweet voices.

It was a wrench to come home from those special moments to real life again! At home, I found my good friend had brought my box of peaches and left them on the kitchen counter. What Good Luck!

However, before I found the peaches, they were discovered by Sugar Ants. What Bad Luck!

An ant massacre ensued, in which every ant warrior was killed. What Good Luck! For me, anyway. Not so much, for them.

Half the box was already bruised and getting soft. What Bad Luck!

I was able to save enough from that half to make 3 batches of peach jam. What Good Luck!

Sadly, I had only enough of the pectin I like that uses only small amounts of sugar for two batches. What Bad Luck!

I made a double batch, and froze the rest of the peach smash. I can get more pectin at the berry farm. What Good Luck!

Today, I canned the other half of the peaches, and there were about half a dozen left (after the one I cut up on my cereal for breakfast - yum!) so I froze those for another batch of jam, too. What Good Luck!

I didn't want to smash them too much, so they are floating in the syrup.

You might wonder why I can in pints instead of quarts. I'm only canning for one - me. Each jar holds about 2 very large peaches. If I had cut the pieces smaller or smashed them, I could have gotten more in, but I wanted them bigger.

Jam info: The only thing I did differently from the directions in the Pomona Pectin was that instead of 1/2 c. of lime juice, I added 1/2 c. of Real Lime juice. That's the concentrate. I could have watered it down to lime juice, but it adds just a little tang of lime to the peach jam that is yummy.

Syrup for peaches: I made ultra light syrup. I used about 2.5 cups I had left from the raspberries, and added another 3 cups of water and 1/3 c. of sugar plus 5 teaspoons of preservative to keep the color from going dark. I boiled that while I heated jars and sliced the peaches. Then it was stuff the jar full, pour in syrup, get bubbles out and cap with a hot lid and ring before plunking into the water bath. Can 25 minutes at boiling for pints and 30 minutes for quarts.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

By Noon on Thursday

It wasn't a deadline. It was a surprise. By noon, I had these two projects complete!


Cobbler berries:

I wanted to get a view of the beautiful jewel color of the jam, so I took it outside and set it on the deck railing. I don't think it really comes through, even with the sun shining, but my eyes can see it when I look through the jar. However, this is a great example of good bokeh, without even trying! Bokeh has been defined as "the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light". In other words, it's the blur behind the focus. This is a good one. Sometimes that kind of thing is awful, but not this time. Still, I wish you could see the sparkly, clear color the camera couldn't catch, at least not with me behind the lens!

The berries were picked in the first cool of the morning on Tuesday, after rain the night before. It was the first cool morning around here in a while. I wish I could say I went to the forest and the berries were free, but I have no clue where such things might exist around here. The best berry picking I ever did was with Paul, my husband of many years, in Jenny Jump forest in New Jersey. We picked black raspberries glutinously! It was my first time picking. That bounty was turned into so many jars of jam, mostly over a wood fire, adding a smokey flavor. My first jam making experience, too, and it was so much I didn't mind giving some away. We had so much fun in our week's vacation!

Over the years, Paul and I made many, many batches of strawberry jam, working as a team to get it in the jars, wiped down, lids on and into the water bath. It's a little trickier for me to do it alone, but it worked and now I have jam and the makings of small cobblers for one.

Take advantage of the summer's bounty, whether by picking your own (that was about $8 cost for berries, and I only used a scant 1-1/4 cup of sugar in it) or buying at great prices at the grocery store.

The pectin I used came from the farm. It's called Pomona's Universal Pectin and you can find it at their website or farm stands and co-ops. I love it! It worked like a charm, and allows you to use as little or as much sugar, honey or artificial sweetner as you like.

One box is $6, but it is for 2-4 batches, depending on whether you make single or double or even triple batches. The recipe I used (included in the box, and others on the site) used 2 teaspoons, and there shoul be enough for 3 more batches in the box. Economical. The pectin is not activated by sugar, as with Sure-Jell and Certo. Instead, it's activated with calcium (included in the packet with directions for use) from orange peelings. It was so super easy, and I know it jelled nicely - I scraped the pot after it cooled! Those scrapings were yummy, and I could have used less sugar still, even though my berries were definitely on the tart side! Next time, I'll know.

The recipe for raw packing the rest of the blackberries came from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, and I used the ultra light syrup listed.