In both our gardens and at the local Farmer's Markets, it is prime time for fresh fruits and vegetables in San Mateo. During the cold, damp days of the winter to come, what could be better than opening a home canned jar of peaches and enjoying a taste of summer?
August 13th is the first National Can-It-Forward Day. Jardin Home Brands (Ball Canning) has joined with Canning Across America to celebrate summer's harvest. You can learn just how easy saving summer in a jar can be through on-line videos, hosting a Canning Party, and free recipes.
This weekend I decided to take advantage of both my garden's yield and a Farmer's Market find to try out some of recipe's offered. I intended to just put away a little bit for winter and have some fun.
But some time during the night, my brain short circuited and got hooked like a broken record. Can, can, can. And I am not talking about the dance. I woke up and made a beeline to the garage. Buried under a fifty cup coffee maker (I keep in the event Starbucks goes under) and stuck in a corner that was practically plastered under cobwebs was my goal, the largest canning pot ever produced for home use. Cartons of jars and lids were mined from the from the castoff appliance corner like nuggets of gold from the mother lode.
I should warn you, canning at my house is not for the faint of heart. I may be just a wee bit competitive.
The canning and preserving cookbooks go along happily instructing you through 2.5 million little steps for one can of pie filling. At the end they all say the same thing, do it correctly or die, literally. Keeping this in mind, I did all the right things, boiling my jars as if they were to be used in a heart transplant operation, tossing my apple slices in lemon to save them the embarrassment a tan would bring, caramelizing my sugar to the correct temperature so that when it hardened in my hair it would require surgical removal.
Pots of one thing or another cooked for 7 straight hours. The sink filled with green and red spaghetti like peels. The floor magically took on extra gravitational pull, sucking sugar, flour, and liquids together until a gummy substance covered it.
Every jar I own is filled with pie filling, applesauce and sliced peaches. The pantry was full after the first batch, but I didn't let that stop me. I can always store them under the bed, behind the sofa, or make a mantle display.
Now my apple and peach canning is done for the year. The apple tree in the yard bears the scars of the weekend frenzy (grabbed a branch to balance on the ladder and it snapped off, consider it early pruning), as does my kitchen. I felt as if I was living on a farm surrounded by nature's bounty. Then I looked around the kitchen. I was living on a farm alright, the funny farm. But this winter, I can close my eyes, take a bite of peach, and be transported back to summer.