Memories of Country Living
When I was about five years old, my brother, who was ten, and I would get dropped off in the country at Dixie's house. We would ride horses, pick corn, watch country folk canning jams and sit down to an abundant proper country supper. You didn't put your elbows on the table; they prayed before eating and made everything they ate from scratch. They worked hard, and there was a genuine sense of family values.
I remember Dixie's dad, "Bud." Bud wore well-worn blue jean overalls and a moderate brimmed farmers hat and was a rather tall and a deep-voiced man with deep lines on his face who didn't say much, but when he did - you listened. He once announced at the dinner table, "You can eat as much as you want, but if you put it on your plate, you have to eat everything on it." My eyes had never seen so much food on the table before! The spread was better than an Oliver Play! I was as wide-eyed as a mouse at midnight, and he knew it!
On the other hand, Dixie's mom had a lot of patience for me and had me sitting on top of the countertops, helping her preserve jam by sealing each jelly jar with wax. She was very kind. Once, when making zucchini bread, she could see I was not pleased with the thought of a zucchini going into bread. She let me lick the batter and watched my little face light up with wonder and surprise, exclaiming, "This is sooooo good!" She made a friend and a believer out of me pretty fast! She always let me help with making food. My Grandmother, who was Spanish, loved letting me watch her cook and gave me wonderfully fond memories. Having patience which kids in the kitchen has always impressed and warmed my heart.
Country living also keeps little minds and hands busy. County life has always appealed to me because nature is free, and I think of myself as a free spirit too. I also think I am the artsy type- my feelings are directed in a positive direction. Being in nature elevates my state naturally without the need for alcohol or marijuana or other fancy medications one uses when depressed or anxious. If you, like me, need a healthy outlet, consider getting into nature more and see if it doesn't boost your mood ~naturally.
So, here's my first batch of canning peaches as an adult! I did the simple water bath canning method. It's pretty easy, and you can try and succeed with some planning. Now, you will find a lot of sugar in canning recipes. Anyone that knows me knows I don't march to the beat of that drum. If you are looking for a more healthy and just-as-tasty recipe, I will share mine below for you to try. Slice up your peaches (with or without the skins) into wedges. Some say that leaving the skins on it can make the peaches a little rough to the tongue. I have not found that to be the case, but to each their own. You can do whatever you want. I left mine on and made pies; no one was wiser. You can do some jars with skins and some without and see which you prefer.
Once your peaches are sliced to your liking, you will need to add a lot of lemon juice and stevia to some water (or sweetener of your choice). I like liquid stevia because I will sweeten it on my own when I break open the bottle later in the year. Now the trick with stevia is to figure out how much to add before getting to that "weird stevia aftertaste." Here's what I do. I squeeze about 6-12 lemons, take the juice (which helps preserve the peaches because it has citric acid in the lemon juice), and set it aside.
Once I set the juice aside from the squeezed lemons and have the peaches cut up and my liquid stevia out on the counter, I boil a large pot of water. There are two pots of water on the stove at this time. One is filtered water, and will be the water I will add inside the canning jars along with the lemon juice, stevia, and peaches. The other deep boiler is a stock pot that's tall enough to cover my jars with regular tap water, about an inch and a half over the tops of the sealed jars. Oh! Let me mention that I have a little saucepan of pre-boiled and still slightly hot (no longer boiling) water with the canning jar rims and lids gentle warming inside. I place my glass canning jars inside the oven with the temperature at about 250 degrees with my canning jars inside. Those will get sterilized from the oven heat. I usually wait about 15-20 minutes and then turn off the oven once it reaches temperature.
Now we are ready to can our peaches. I have a little canning package from Amazon that includes about 8 items to help with grabbing jars and whatnot. Here's the link. I know it says 32 things, but I think it's counting the individual spoons and labels that come with the set. This will help you grab your jars and measure the amount of liquid you need.
You want your jars filled with liquid as high as possible but not so high that it forces the water out and creates a gap. So, you have a little plastic jar top stick with the set to help ensure headspace and measure about 3/4th of an inch from liquid to the top of the jar lid.
Everything has to be heated, including stevia, lemon juice, and water. Here's a video in case you are like me and want to see this part. You can start around the 2-minute mark to get the quick canning part.
From that video, you should be good to go. You always want to follow the FDA canning guides, which I will include a link to right here. Different elevations will determine how long you need to leave your canned peaches that are lidded and placed into the boiling water. Now you can only use fruit with the water bath canning method; otherwise, you have to use a pressure canner for other food items, which is a whole different kind of canning that will be needed for vegetables, meat, and anything other than fruit. High Vitamin C content foods can generally be used with the water bath method. Everything else needs pressure to make sure you have appropriately canned food safely. It's not as scary as it sounds, but it can be if you don't first learn the important difference between the two methods.
Needless to say, you can have a lot of joy in having peaches year round if you like peaches as much as we do. We also like "in-season" peaches as they are sweeter and juicier! I try to eat what is closest to season and local, so we stock up on sweet peaches when the summer comes.
It's now apple season here in Tennessee. I am going to dehydrate my apples. So as you see, you can keep yourself quite busy!
Hope you enjoyed the info, and feel free to click the links above to learn more and see peach canning in action. I find canning a relaxing way to enjoy knowing what is going into my food. It's a healthy way to keep your insides healthy without worrying about additives.
Happy, healthy living to you!