Plenty Sweet Life

Grandma's Recipes One By One!

Peaches (Canned)

The month of August is the time of year when we start to put in supplies for the winter! I know that sounds like we’re pioneers trying to save food for the long, hard, cold winter, but that’s how I’ve always felt about it. My family used to do these things every year when I was growing up, and now everyone seems to be so into preserving local produce. It’s the way our grandparents preserved the fruit and vegetables from their own gardens and orchards back when they were young (and during the Great Depression), and they also make sure they had some fresh food in the middle of winter here in Minnesota. Now we’re doing it just because it’s the best way to get fresh and local food saved for later use. We know what’s in the food and we know where it came from. I love that. We’re starting to harvest vegetables from the garden and there are delicious fruits in the markets like berries, peaches, and pears to can or freeze, and there are apples to make into applesauce or desserts. There are so many fun ways to preserve foods, and it’s time to get busy, busy, busy!! Canning was a family chore. Both grandmas and my mom would all do it, and I would help them all with it. August was always a warm time of year to do this because none of the three homes had air conditioning. We’d fire up the electric fans and we’d be ready to work. It was always fun to do it together when everyone pitched in and made the chore go faster. Someone had to blanch the fruit and get it into the ice water bath to make the peeling easier, then someone had to do the peeling and cutting (I loved to snitch pieces of the fruit when doing this, but the more you snitched of the delicious fruit, the longer it would take, so snitching was out!), and someone had to be in charge of the canner and the timing. It was a bit of hard work, but a lot of fun and family time. Peaches (Canned) is a basic recipe that you can use to get your peaches ready to use later. They don’t last long when you buy them, as we all know, and once they’re ripe, it’s go time.

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There are a couple of different sized batches here to choose from, depending on how many pints you want to get from your peaches. Lucky you! You get a bonus canned pear recipe here!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Peaches (Canned)

Mix together in a saucepan:

1 pint water

1 cup sugar

13 peaches (quartered, halved, or sliced)

Bring to a boil.

Put into clean, hot jars, top with a lid and a ring, and process according to the National Center for Food Preservation website.

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It’s funny how something so simple can end up being so delicious!

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You can use the boiling water/ice bath method for peeling, but if the peaches are ripe enough, you don’t really need to do that. Just peel them any way you want to.

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So pretty. I love peaches.

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Peeling and quartering takes a while, so I would do that first. The recipe calls for 13 peaches, but I thought my peaches looked a bit small so I used 15. I got 4 pints instead of 3 from those 15 peaches.

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The National Center for Food Preservation shows two ways to make peaches: hot pack or cold pack, and I used hot pack here. That just means the fruit and syrup are hot when you put them into the jars.

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Putting the fruit into the jars is definitely easier with a wide-mouthed canning funnel. I only had 4 jars of fruit, so I used my large stockpot instead of the canner. Put something like a silicone trivet or a folded up dishcloth between the bottom of the pot and the jars, if possible, to prevent cracking the jars.

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Take the jars out of the canner or pot and let them cool on a rack. Listen for the pop of the lids to know that they’re sealed. If they don’t pop, they aren’t sealed and you’ll just have to eat them right away. Oh well, it’s not all bad when they don’t seal. Aren’t they pretty? All ready for the cupboard. Next winter when we need a bite of sunshine, I’ll take them out and we’ll have delicious peaches! Nothing better.

 

 

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Seckel Pears in Spiced Honey Syrup

I found this recipe last summer when I saw these beautiful little pears at the Farmer’s Market and I HAD to buy them. While searching the internet for what to do with these little beauties, I found this recipe for Seckel Pears in Spiced Honey Syrup at Sweet Miscellany.blogspot.com. You can find the original recipe that I used here. I used one jar of them during the holidays and when it was my turn to have book club, I thought I would share the last jar of these sweet and spicy pears.

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Seckel pears aren’t really common in these parts, and I love using local produce whenever possible, so that sealed the deal.

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They were just so beautiful, I couldn’t resist!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Seckle Pears in Spiced Honey Syrup

(I used half of this recipe)

8 pears (enough for 2 quart jars)

4 cups water

1 1/2 cups honey

2 cinnamon sticks

2 whole star anise

6 cardamom pods

(I didn’t have any star anise, so I just left them out. I also didn’t have cardamom pods so I used 1/2 teaspoon of ground cardamom and it seemed to work ok. Because I was short of spice, I still used 2 cinnamon sticks even though I made a half batch.)

Scrub pears well in hot water and remove any stickers.

Sterilize jars, rings, and lids.

You can find canning instructions at the National Center for Home Food Preservation.

For the honey syrup:

In a saucepan combine honey and water and bring to a boil.

Boil for 5 minutes and then turn off heat.

Fill each jar with pears (I cut the pears in half so they fit better).

Then put half the spices in each jar.

Carefully pour the honey syrup over top of pears leaving 1/2 inch of headspace at the top of the jar.

Put on lids and rings and can according to instructions at the National Center for Home Food Preservation.

After canning, let jars sit for about an hour.

If they haven’t sealed, put in refrigerator and use within a month.

If the jars have sealed, put in a cool, dry place and use within one year.

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I had enough for two pint jars of pears.

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Even after canning, they’re just so beautiful! I’m glad I saved them for a special occasion.

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At Christmastime we had these with brie cheese on a baguette and that was delicious. For book club, we had them with a Vermont aged white cheddar, which was also delicious. We came to the conclusion that they are indeed – delicious!

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Another benefit of these delicious pears is that you can save the honey syrup and use it on your pancakes. I would suggest that you use them on these Sweet Milk Griddle Cakes. I hope this gives you the confidence to go ahead and try something new. When you see beautiful local produce, go ahead – get it and try it in something new! You won’t be sorry, and you won’t even need to wait to use it for a special occasion!

 

 

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Hot Bath Tomatoes

We had a garden every summer when I was growing up, both of my grandmas and grandpas had gardens every summer when I was growing up, and I have a garden every summer. There would be tomatoes coming out of our ears from these gardens (all except mine – I’ve lost all the sun needed to grow tomatoes – too many trees). We had to do something to preserve these tomatoes, so canning was the best option. Grandma did this every year, she taught my mom how to do it, and she taught me and my sister how to do it. Who knew that they were called Hot Bath Tomatoes – we just called them canned tomatoes!! We would have an assembly line going to tackle this huge project: someone would be putting the tomatoes into the boiling water to get the peel off easily, then someone would be putting the tomatoes into the ice water bath to stop the tomatoes from cooking too much. We would all have paring knives to peel the skin off of the tomatoes and cut them into fourths. Then the tomatoes were heated just to boiling and popped into the clean, sterilized jars, the rims were wiped clean with a damp towel, the lids were taken from boiling water and put onto the top of the jars, and at last the lids were screwed on. That was my favorite part back then, seeing the jars lined up and ready to go into the canner. If felt good to have helped make these things we would have to eat later in the winter. There was such a camaraderie with the whole family helping. It was hot work with the canner heating up the kitchen (it was usually done in late August or early September), and it was a lot of work to get it all done, but I LOVED it!!! I just loved it.

Hot Bath Tomatoes

These tomatoes are so great for making all of those sauces and soups later in the winter!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Hot Bath Tomatoes

Peel and cut tomatoes (for easier peeling, put into boiling water for 30-45 seconds, then into an ice bath to stop the cooking).

Bring tomatoes just to a boil.

Put into jars (quarts or pints) and leave 1/2 inch of head space at the top of the jar.

Put jars in canner, having water covering jars with 2 inches of water.

Boil for 45 minutes in canner.

You can find the recommendations for this on the National Center for Home Food Preservation website.

Cool and listen for the “pop” of the lid sealing.

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I haven’t canned tomatoes this year (I did make a batch of Grandma’s Tomato Soup), but I did do them last year and I have just one jar left.

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You can see the tomatoes cut into fourths and how they make their own juice. There’s nothing but tomatoes in here!

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We use a lot of tomatoes throughout the year in spaghetti sauce, lasagna, soups, hot dish, the list goes on and on. Canning tomatoes this way is a tomato saver AND a money saver!

 

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