Sunday, September 27, 2009
In case you weren't aware, the Pacific Northwest is a place of bountiful fruit harvests. The berries (of more varieties than I can possibly name) start coming in late June, and keep going with late crops until the end of September. It's really amazing to live in such a place. I was so inspired by my friend's canning prowess that I decided this would be the year to learn.
In July, right before we left for Massachusetts, we picked 15 pounds of blueberries in about 90 minutes. Of course, the boys helped...
I was afraid we were going to miss all the action - especially peaches - while back East. One weekend right after getting back to Portland, Korin, Ryan and I headed out to a farm for marionberries. I wish we'd gotten photos - Max was on Ryan's back, and by the time we were done picking, Ryan was drenched in purpley-red berry juice. Korin graciously made jam for me, and by then I was convinced I could do it myself. Though we weren't able to pick any raspberries ourselves, I was still able to get amazing deals at our local farmer's market on flats of raspberries, marionberries, and blackberries... and then my love of preserving fruit took hold.
Harvested grapes and blackberries --- from our own urban backyard! Our neighbor's grapes are draped into our yard, and wow, I had no idea how amazing fresh grapes are. Next year, we'll be making grape jam for sure!
Over the past month, I have canned and frozen an extraordinary amount of fruit for the boys. I feel so abundant and blessed to have such beautiful fruit to give them all winter long. All the fruit was local, and it feels good to know that over the winter, I can just buy local apples to give them fresh fruit, and the rest will come from my own pantry. For my first season of ever doing this, I think I kicked some serious ass! The peaches specifically were so easy and so, so delicious that I canned a TON. Don't ask me how I/we managed to do this with two toddlers under foot. It was definitely hard, and many, many afternoons I stood by the sink in the kitchen, peeling peaches while the boys whined and threatened to pull my pants off by the legs, wondering why I was making such efforts. Most of the work was done at night - their 7pm bedtime helped.
Two nights ago, we finished the exhausting work of preserving into the night, and today I stowed away all the jars in our cabinets and in the garage. Here's what we got:
Blackberries, Blueberries, Raspberries and Marionberries:
4 gallon bags
17 quart bags
(this does not include what we've already eaten, which must be 2 gallon bags by now!)
Basil Pesto - 15 1/2 pints
22 quarts of sliced peaches in low-sugar syrup
8 pints of low-sugar jam
Marionberry - low-sugar jam
Blackberry - low-sugar jam
1/2 pint jars - 3
Raspberry - - low-sugar jam
1/2 pint jars - 9
Tangerine Slices (canned by Korin!)
Strawberry-Raspberry low-sugar jam
1/2 pint jars - 7
Barlett Pear Slices
32 quarts sliced fruit
29 pint jars of jam/butter
19 half pint jars of jam/butter