Sweets of Summer

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Strawberry Jam in the works. As you can see I have a pressure canner that also doubles at a hot water boiler. I love things that can be used in more then one way. It saves so much space.

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.

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Peaches right after a 2 minute dip in boiling water. The quick bath helps to loosen the skin so it basically falls off by rubbing it with you fingers.

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.

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If you cut an X in the bottom of the peaches before you blanch them the skin comes off so much easier. You’ll also start to see the skin loosen which gives you a heads up that they might not need the full 2 minutes or might need a little longer.

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.

For frequent updates on what is taking place on the homestead please follow my twitter @smallhomestead I tend to post to twitter about ever two days or less with updates and new blog posts.  

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