We have three peach trees in our little “orchard”. For several years they didn’t yield much fruit, and then it’s kind of hit and miss. Last year there was a late freeze in the spring and we didn’t get more than a dozen peaches. We were at the mercy of a neighbor whose trees did not freeze to get our peach fix.
This year Ryan attended a pruning and gardening workshop and learned that we should be picking a LOT of the tiny peaches so that the peaches can have the energy, food, and room to grow bigger. He picked at least a 5 gallon bucket full of the tiny little peaches early in the summer. But he said it was like murdering peaches and he didn’t like it.
I don’t know if it was due to the fact that we pruned those trees last year, or that he picked those tiny peaches, but this is the most peaches we have ever had. And they are nice sized, too. Gorgeous. For weeks in the summer, we would go out and hope for ripe peaches, only to realize that close up, they were not ready yet. Well, they are ready now. Saturday I started picking. Mostly because I was worried that branches would be breaking off if I didn’t do something to lighten the load of peaches on those branches. I picked a 5 gallon bucket, with a smaller bucket full of smooshed or buggy peaches to give to the chickens. I realized these peaches weren’t going to wait, so I got the steam canner down and started going to work.
It’s a messy process, washing, blanching, peeling, adding a simple syrup, boiling the lids, sterilizing the bottles. It had something on every single burner on the stove. I enlisted the kids to help. They are good at the peeling and their smaller hands fit well into the bottles, and really I just could use the help so the peaches don’t go brown and yucky before I get them processed. I always have to look up the instructions every year..How much sugar? How long do they process? What’s our elevation? But I got going quickly.
Monday dawned, and I was a little sad that I didn’t have a play to go to that night, but all the better to get sticky and can some more peaches, right? I went out and picked another 5 gallon bucket full of peaches, and got started. No kids to help me at first, but I got the first batch of 7 into the steam bath before they got home. After I picked them up (early out day and all), everyone was home by 2:00, and they each helped for about an hour. It seemed much longer to all of us. We got another 7 quarts done for a total of 14 that day. I had to send Natalie out to pick me just a few more peaches when I ran out right after I started the last bottle.
Tuesday, I picked another bucket and took a bunch with me visiting teaching. After our VT appointments were over and I had finished my obligations at the elementary school, I figured I had better get back at it. I also sent out some texts and messages to friend to PLEASE feel free to come over and get some peaches, as we have more than we can eat or bottle. I wasn’t super productive and only did 8 or 9 quarts. Also, I was running out of wide mouth jars. As I was searching the basement, I find lots of regular jars, but I was down to my last bunch of wide mouths. Hmmm. Maybe if I make taco soup and use this jar of tomato juice, that’s ONE more wide mouth jar. Pitiful, I know.
My friend Lisa called and said she was going to come over and pick some peaches, and she had some bottles I could have. She did NOT want to bottle them, and was super generous to bring me a whole box of 12 wide mouth jars! She picked about a 5 gallon bucket full of peaches, and her kids played here for a bit while we talked. It was wonderful to have her visit, as I haven’t seen her all summer!
Wednesday I was going to skip the canning for the day, but I HAD all these bottles, and there were still LOTS of peaches on the tree, so what’s a girl going to do. I got started and pretty soon my back was aching and I was finishing up the last of the 11 quarts for the day. Work like that makes one sticky, so it was time for a shower, then clean the counter and mop the floor… AGAIN. I haven’t cleaned the stove, even though it TOTALLY needs it, but I want to finish the intense canning before I scrub all the mess. I’ll just make more mess tomorrow.
So, if I am remembering correctly, we how have about 40 quarts of peaches. I have 8 more wide mouth jars, so if I fill those tomorrow, that will be 48 (or so). That’s enough, right?