It’s normally around the middle of May that a very important and horrible event takes place in my kitchen. I dread it and try to hold off the event as long as possible. Based on some of the photos you are probably assuming I’m talking about canning but it’s actually the prequel to this event. It’s the moment when I realize that I’m about to run out of the sweet treasures from the year before.
Each year I make a mix of strawberry jam, peach preserves, grape jelly, and apple butter. These are by far my favorite summer sweets and I look forward to sitting on a winter morning, watching the snow fall and enjoying leftovers from the summer. These also turn into great small gifts around the holidays and I have a few people who start hinting about them around September. Some don’t even hit anymore. My grandpa anymore just asks for apple butter in quart jars since it’s easier for him to keep track of. We meet half way and I use print jars since I have more of those available at any given period.
I start planning for my summer sweets as soon as I noticed the strawberries are starting to appear at the farmers markets. For years my parents raised and sold strawberries to earn extra money. That small project turned into a big deal and soon brought in enough extra money to pay for the gas bill during the winter. Every little bit helps when you’re on a tight budget. Back when my parents were raising strawberries I would always plan a visit about the time the majority of the berries were turning ripe. In exchange for helping to pick I got a few quarts that I turned into wine and jam. (I’m pretty sure my parents would have just given the berries to me because they always ended up with jam and wine later in the year.) I would take the berries home wash them remove the tops and freeze them for a weekend project when I didn’t have anything else that needed to be done. In this case I paired it up with making peach preserves and had a whole canning weekend of fun.
The peaches are normally purchased at the farmers market but in this case my parents were given a deal on 10 pounds of Georgia peaches that they just couldn’t turn down. I took almost all of the peaches and used them in a ton of different project including my preserves. They weren’t as good as my local peaches I buy but they were still better then most you can purchase from area stores. I now have two of my four traditional summer sweets checked off my list. Next up grape jelly from my grape vine and a trip to a local u-pick apple orchard for a bushel of apples for wine and apple butter.
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