Monday, August 19, 2013

Putting up Peaches

We are nearing the end of peach season here in South Carolina, but the summer is just not complete without putting up some peaches.  And I wanted to share the process with y'all in case you wanted to try it for yourselves.  Now, just to warn you, canning peaches is not cheap, and it is labor-intensive, but ((good night!!)) the results are well worth the extra time and effort!  Home canned peaches are the closest thing you can get to summer-ripened peach in the middle of winter.  There are certainly other ways to can peaches, but here is how I set up my itty bitty kitchen.

* Peaches
* Sugar
* Fruit Fresh - Add this to your canning liquid to prevent your peaches from turning brown while in storage.

* Glass Mason jars or Weck canning jars (with lids and/or seals)
* Canning pot with metal canning insert
* Medium saucepan
* Measuring spoons and cups
* Jar lifter
* Induction cook top and medium pot
* Slotted spoon
* 3 bowls (one for an ice bath, one for your peels and stones, and one for your cut up peaches)
* Paring knife

OK...First things first...when it comes to picking your peaches, you want to find freestone peaches that are ripe, unbruised, and heavy for their size.  (A lot of times, you cannot buy ripe peaches because they don't travel from farm to market well, so you may have to buy unripe peaches and wait for them to ripen on their own.  If your peaches are not very ripe you can lay them out on clean dishtowels in a single layer on your counter for a couple of days.)
I am such a goober...and I love peaches.  :)
Preparation is key, firstly to streamline the lengthy process, and also to insure you won't give someone botulism from eating your canned peaches.  I am not an expert, but I have yet to kill anyone from giving them canned food (or any other way for that matter).  So, make sure you follow the USDA recommendations when canning anything.  It's also helpful if you have someone to share the workload with.  It took my husband and me 4 hours to put up 26 quarts of peaches.

Clean your kitchen, then wash your jars, lids, and seals in hot soapy water and let them air dry.

Fill up your canning pot with hot water and set on high to boil.  I have a glass top stove, and was able to lay the pot across two burners to heat.  It takes a long time for this much water to boil, so you may have to wait a little bit to start the rest of the process.  When the water is boiling, start your syrup.  I chose to make a light syrup using 1 cup sugar, 4 cups water, and 4 tsp Fruit Fresh.  This is enough liquid for 2 or 3 quarts of peaches.  Stir the syrup until the sugar is dissolved.  Stir often to keep the liquid from burning. 
On the other side of my kitchen, I set up an induction cooktop.  Fill with water and set to boil.  Have a paring knife and slotted spoon ready.  (We didn't need the vegetable peeler.)  You'll use this for peeling the peaches.
Next to the indiction stove, fill one large bowl with cool water and ice.  One bowl is for discarding peach stones and skins.  The last bowl is for your cut up peaches. 
Wash a couple of peaches and get ready to peel them.  Peeling peaches is easy if you place the peaches in boiling water for 30-60 seconds, then immediately remove with a  slotted spoon and deposit the fruit in a bath of icy water.

Cut around the circumference of the peach using a paring knife.
Twist the peach to free it from the stone, then peel the skin right off.  If the peach sin't ripe, the skin will stick in places.  

See?  You can peel the skin right off with your fingers.  Use a paring knife if the peel sticks.

Slice the peaches and place into your third bowl until you have enough to fill a jar. 

Stack the peaches into your prepared jars.  The USDA  states that you don't need to sterilize your jars if you prepare your jars in a hot water canner afterward.

I'm sure that my sister, Robin (math genius and perfecter of puzzles), would have some  perfect, mathematical equation to put in more slices, but I've found that if you lay them flat you can fit quite a few peaches in each jar.  Our peaches were very large this year, so only 2 1/2 peaches fit per jar.

Leave 1/2 inch of room at the top of each jar.

Pour hot syrup into the jar, covering the peaches.  I strongly suggest you do this part over the sink!

Carefully scrape a knife around the circumference of the jar, releasing the air bubbles trapped between the peaches.   Add more syrup to cover the peaches.  I also press down the peaches to make sure the syrup covers the fruit completely.  (The peaches will float a bit at this point.)  

Leave 1/2 inch space between the contents and the top of the jar.  It is very important to wipe the edge of the jars before placing the seals, lids, and clips on top.

Place prepared jars in your hot water canner.  Make sure there is an inch of water covering the tops of the jars.  Leave jars in the canner for 30 minutes.   
Use a jar lifter to remove jars from the boiling water, and let cool.  Check the seal by removing the clips and gently trying to lift the lids.  Place in a cool, dark storage for up to a year.
I also love canned peaches! (Still a goober!!!)  :)  This jar was straight out of the canner.  After a couple of days the peaches absorb some of the syrup and swell, so they fill up the jar.

And while we're on the subject of canning, here is a bit about Weck canning jars....  I LOVE the way they look, but in the past I have had upwards of 50% fail rate with the jars sealing....which, as you can imagine, is a real bummer when you have done all of that hard work into putting them up!  My mother-in-law found this site, and I used her suggestions  regarding the use of 3 clips, instead of 2, and not sealing them all the way down in order to let the air escape.  I did not have one single jar fail this time around!  Woo hoo!!!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Hello!  I just wanted to let you know that I won't be posting here very often.  I am so excited to be starting a new venture with my mom and sisters - Swan Bay Family.  Check us out here every day for lots of ideas, how-to's, and inspirations.  And, if you're so inclined, check out our shared etsy shop for some awesome crafty goodness, kits, and supplies!

Monday, September 17, 2012

A new (to me) dining set

I have been wanting to get a new dining room set for a while.  Our Ikea set has proved very useful and dependable for 10 years, but children, spilled food, and time have not been good to the chairs.  They have become delicate and I'm afraid that one of these days we're going to have someone over for dinner and they'll end up on the floor.  (Not the best thing to happen when you're trying to be a good hostess!!!)  Plus, my style has changed quite a bit.  I really wanted a Danish modern table and chairs to replace our current dining set.  I love the sleek lines and solid construction of Danish modern design (insert dreamy sigh here) but price or timing has always been an issue.  But this weekend I found it!!!  There they were, just sitting there in the corner of the thrift store, covered in some (ahem) interesting maroon, off-white and taupe flowered fabric.  
This is what the chairs looked like at the thrift shop.
Nice, huh? 
And then, I lifted off the chair covers, and saw this!!!!  (I would have sworn that I heard angels sing.)

Jared doesn't have the same love of furniture as I do, but it was such a deal at $151 for the table and 6 chairs, that we couldn't pass it up!!!!  When we got them home...
The first thing I did was remove the seats.  There were only 4 screws holding each seat in place.
Then, I removed the staples holding on the flowered fabric using a flat-headed screwdriver and pliers.  It's last owner just covered over the original fabric.

I was thinking that I'd cover over the seats with vinyl so that all of the messy kid stuff could be wiped off easily, but I really like the original fabric.  :)
A little dingy, but nothing a good cleaning couldn't fix!
My sweet husband shampooed the seat cushions for me.  I scrubbed down the table and chairs with a bit of Murphy's Oil Soap while I waited for the cushions to dry.
Ta da!  Good as new (old)!
And along with the table, it all looks pretty fabulous if I do say so myself!!!!
Finding this table, and seeing it in place, makes me want to make a lot of changes in the house.  I have all of these great projects in mind for making my house feel a bit more homey.  And I just can't wait to get started....after I finish the laundry that piled up this weekend while I was prettying up my table!  :) 

Monday, September 3, 2012

Good bye, Summer. Hello, Fall.

We had such an amazing summer!!!  I am sad to see this season go, but I'm totally looking forward to everything this fall has to offer!  Here's a quick recap of everything you missed while I completely ignored my blog.  (Warning: picture-heavy post!)

An amazing trip to Walt Disney World with my in-laws....
Jesse and Gigi on the boat heading for the Magic Kingdom.
Grandpa, Jesse the skeleton pirate, and Gigi after Jesse's transformation at the Pirate League.
Micah slept through a lot of the trip.  (This was the last week with the pacifier.)
Grandpa, Jesse, and Gigi enjoying dinner at the Primetime Cafe.
Daddy, Micah, Mickey, and Jesse at breakfast at O'Hana.
That's one happy, Mickey-loving boy!
Playing on the awesome playground at Epcot.
Plews are friends, not food.
It was so hot, but the popsicles were a good treat to help cool us down!
They really love each other!
Family shot with Chip and Dale.
The whole gang in front of the Tree of Life at Animal Kingdom.
Aw!  Brothers!  
Singing in the rain with his Dumbo hat.
Stylish little guys, waiting in line.
Picked tomatoes at a tomato farm with the boys (after the bugs destroyed all of our plants...ugh!), and made our own sauce and tomato soup....

Tomato snack
By the end, Micah was covered, head-to-toe in tomato juice and seeds.

Took a bunch of trips to the pool, Savannah, and playgrounds....
Jesse loved snacks by the pool...
and so did Micah.

Lunch by the pool with our sweet friend, Sadie
Chilling in the bee hive at Savannah Bee Company.
Chilling in Savannah's City Market
Riding with Mickey on a horse, while Jesse was at VBS.
Threw Micah a Cars/Kiddie Pool 2nd birthday party....
Lots of splashing...
and sliding....
and more splashing!

We made lots of cake pops for this little guy!

Lots of playing and relaxing......

Backyard picnics 
Chilling on the slip-and-slide
Bear and Tutter from the Big Blue Hose

My super heroes!
Crusin' in the Jeep 
Journaling a parenting fail
Playing pirates 
Making Backson masks.  If you haven't seen Winnie the Pooh, you should!  It's adorable!
Piggy Pirates!
Lemonade Stand - Sweet and Sour.
A crazy, 19-hour-each-way trip to Chicago to see my cousin get married, with a stop in Indiana on the way home to see all the in-laws......

Breakfast outside at the hotel with my Mom, sisters, and our kids.
Splashing in the pool.  Not everyone was happy about this.
Me, Micah, Megan, Sadie, Jeff, Joel, Jesse, Robin, and Judah in my Aunt and Uncle's backyard before the rehearsal dinner.
The happy couple at the rehearsal dinner.  (((I wish I had gotten a picture of them at the wedding!)))
All dressed up for the reception.
Dinner at the Rainforest Cafe with our cousins.
Jesse and a turkey egg from Grandpa's turkey, Pete.
Picking watermelon from Grandpa's garden.
Gathering eggs from Grandpa's chicken coup.
Joni, Great Gigi, and Jake
Haley, Micah, and Jesse climbing at the Commons.
I'm crazy about this kid!
My goodness!  I just love that boy! 
Jesse, Haley, and Micah at the kid's table at Zaharakos (They are ADORABLE,  if I do say so myself!)
The Second cousins....Haley, Jesse, Micah, and Jake, with Aunt Dana
Picking apples at Anderson's Orchard
Apples are so good!!!
Checking out Grandpa's tractor
Jesse driving the tractor with Grandpa
Micah's turn to drive the tractor
Checking out Grandpa's "Lightning McQueen".
So that was our summer in a nut shell.  I just love that we got to spend time with our family and friends, and now that school is in full swing for Jesse,  my heart is overflowing with thankfulness that he likes school so far this year.  I know it's only been 2 weeks, but already, there is something different about that kid.  He wants to tell me what he did, and just gushes about how awesome his teacher is.  SO THANKFUL!

His first day of FIRST GRADE!!!!
Walking to school
Jesse and his teacher, Mrs. Howell.
Micah was really upset to leave Jesse at school!!!
I can't wait to see what the fall brings!!!  I hope y'all had a great summer, too!