Such a peach

Peaches were on sale for seventy-nine cents a pound on Monday, so I bought about ten pounds.  They were a little on the hard side, so I put them into a big paper grocery sack.  Tuesday found us stomping about the zoo, and Wednesday saw us vegging out due to a bad night’s sleep thanks to numerous Brookelets who would not leave me alone during the night.

I woke up today (late again, due to another night of bed-phobic Brookelets) and remembered that I had ten pounds of peaches sitting on the back counter and that I should go take a peek at them to see how the ripening process was coming along.  As I stepped near the bag, I could smell that beautiful ripe peach smell hanging in the air.  It was time to can ’em up.

Bluebird, my usual jam-making helper, had her piano lesson to get off to; so I asked Penguin if she wanted to help me out with making some peach butter.  She enthusiastically volunteered for the task, remarking that “I’m so glad that I’m six and can finally help make the jam!”  She skinned peaches, added the sugar and spices, and stirred until it started to spit.  Then she kept me company until it was all cooked up, jarred, and set into its water bath.

That’s one gallon (plus one half-pint) of peach butter!

We went big this year, and doubled our usual recipe so we could can up the peach butter in pint jars instead of half-pint jars (that little guy hiding in the middle back in the above picture).  A full batch of peach butter lasts about three weeks in Brooketopia, so I’m hoping this will be enough for 6-8 weeks.  The recipe is my usual, which I now read off of the blog because I’ve lost my paper copy.  (Yay Blog!)

Just look at the golden-spiced goodness.  It’s good on so many things–it’s a great sauce for various meats, a good base for any type of sweet sauce, and just good straight out of the jar on toast or pancakes…or a spoon.

When you walk into our house, you are greeted with the warm fragrance of peaches and spices, and you can hear the little plinkety-plinks of the lids popping.  Ah, the smells and sounds of late summer!

Makin’ Jam!

I am having so much fun with Bluebird as she gets older and is able to assist me in more and more tasks.  Yesterday we tackled some jam-making, preparing a batch of spiced peach butter and a batch of cherry jam.  She loved helping me out and proved to be quite valuable in her assistance.  Many hands make light work, even when the second set of hands measure about half the size of your own hands!

She can peel peaches, stir jam, ladle jam into jars and pit cherries like a pro!

Her favorite parts of making jam were peeling the peaches and pitting the cherries.

In between performing her jam-making duties, she did schoolwork at the kitchen table.  Win-win all around!

Peeling peaches…all I had to slice them up because she was so quick!

She pitted four pounds of cherries all by herself!
She’s the most conscientious cherry pitter I’ve ever met,
checking each individual cherry for residual pits.

Ladling the peach butter into jars.
It was such a nice way to spend time together!

Making Blueberry Jam

OR “A Masochistic Way to Spend a Beautiful Summer Morning”

Homemade Blueberry Jam is one of my most favorite things in the world. I actually look forward to the summertime and to berries ripening throughout the land so I can replenish my blueberry jam hoards. Rabbit and I had fun this morning making jam together:

She’s my go-to girl whenever something needs “smashing” in this house, so it was only natural that she help me out with crushing the blueberries.

Now, to the uninitiated, I must warn that making jam can be rather painful because it spits like nothing else, which covers you with a smattering of burns. Cover any skin that you can, stir with a very long handled spoon and do not lean over your concoction while it cooks. (And shoo away any little ones from the kitchen!)

What things look like after you’re done boiling it all down:

Yep, it’s messy; you acquire a few burns and you’ll definitely spend the entire processing time cleaning up the kitchen.

But it’s worth it, because you end up with beautiful jars of gloriously tasty blueberry jam. It’s practically ambrosia.

And, in the words of my granny, who includes an extra step at the end of all her recipes: “Yummy”

Peach Butter

4-4.5 lbs peaches
4 cups sugar
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  1. Wash and blanch peaches. Put peaches in cold water. Peel, pit and slice peaches. Combine peaches and 1/2 cup water in saucepot. Simmer until peaches are soft. Puree in food processor.
  2. Combine peach puree, sugar and spices in a large saucepot. Cook until thick enough to round up on a spoon. As mixture thickens, stir frequently to prevent sticking. Ladle hot butter into hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Adjust two-piece caps. Process 10 minutes (20 for Spanish Fork) in a boiling-water canner.

For a couple of years when I was a young girl, someone in my family made apple butter and gave us a couple jars. I absolutely fell in love with fruit butters then. This was my first time attempting to re-create some of the magic on my own and I’m very pleased with the results. This peach butter has great flavor and the spices make it absolutely wonderful.