Sunday, September 14, 2008

Summer in a jar

Every year at the beginning of September, my mother-in-law heads to her favorite orchard in Wenatchee to buy peaches. She grew up there and has known the owner for decades. His peaches are always lovely: firm but tender, unblemished, and the flavor is... well, amazing.

Usually Jim and I have her pick up a 30-pound box for us, which will yield about 18 quarts of canned peaches. Last year I was still recouping from Audrey's birth so I didn't can any peaches, but this year we ordered two boxes.

I used to borrowed my mom's kettle whenever I was canning, but about five years ago I invested in a nice big one of my own that can process nine quarts at a time. Jim and I spent the last two evenings in the kitchen with our oscillating fan cranked up to high and the back door open to let out some of the steam emitted from the kettle.

For me canning is always about bonding with family and sharing skills. I learned how to can from my mom, who put away fruit and vegetables every year when I was little. My dad taught me the nifty trick of using a table knife to slide the fruit halves through the neck of each jar so that they stay round side up and form orderly nested stacks. Jim learned about canning from his mom, and always pitches in. This year Jimmy was old enough to start helping, and was very proud about learning how to cut the peaches in half and then peel off the skin. The fruit will be that much sweeter when we eat it because we worked together.

I woke up sore and stiff this morning, and it was only with much creaking that I managed to extract myself from bed. But how wonderful to come down into the kitchen for breakfast and see the neat rows gleaming in the early morning light, like so many jars of bottled sunshine.

2 comments:

No Cool Story said...

Oh, sweet!
I so want to do this too.

I am :)

aubrey said...

this picture of your canned peaches is stunning. and what you said about canning bonding time with family almost exactly echoes what dyann said about it not a week ago. i'm glad you had a nice time..i am jealous but not jealous enough to do it myself. maybe someday..