Saturday, September 4, 2010

Preserving: A Way of Life

Today I bought two boxes, about 22 lbs, of peach seconds for $16.00 at the farmer's market. I have been trying to snag some all season but they're always sold out or I walked there without a wagon. This time I brought my bike and trailer. Still, it was two trips, one to buy the buggers and another to leave the kiddos with The Hubby and pick up those peaches.

Tonight those bruised and somewhat *cough* moldy beauties are being transformed into peach butter using my favorite method, overnight crockpot cooking. I would have taken pictures but:

1) I was trying to do this with a toddler and baby in tow and
2) I'm pretty un-squeamish when it comes to how many bruises I leave in my fruit, but maybe someone would take offense to it. All the moldy parts were cut out, scout's honor.

Speaking of having babies and trying to preserve food I often think, "How did the pioneers do this? And preserve enough to eat all winter?" The answer, they didn't. They all starved to death and we are descendants of an invading alien tribe.

Actually, all joking aside, I think they enlisted more help from their little ones than we modern parents do. I'm sure at 2.5 years old BuggaBoo would have some pretty important jobs on a frontier farm, including taking care of his little sister. But I wonder if they really had a childhood? I'm not saying our way is better or worse, just different. We have the luxury of allowing our children to be children.

Anyway, back to actually making the stuff. I first cut out pits and bad spots. Then I just cut them into smaller chunks and throw them in my blender, skins and all. Then I put them in my crockpots with spices and cook them on low all night with the lids propped so the puree can reduce to a butter. For more detailed instructions click on the link above.

I chose to make butter this time around rather than jam because I didn't want to be boiling substances around Doozer (she was on the counter in her Bumbo and she has quite the reach), so I'll process the butter tomorrow when The Hubby can help me out. Also butter doesn't take pectin, so it's that much cheaper to make. Also also I don't like to use a lot of sugar because of The Hubby's diabetes and with butter you can get away with not using a lot of sugar. I do have some no-sugar-needed pectin (thanks Mommy!) but tonight I just wanted something tried and true.

So if you want, sometime this winter come on over and I'll cook up some amazing fluffy pancakes and dollop some peach butter on top. If you can handle the fact that it was made with bruised fruit.


  1. "Speaking of having babies and trying to preserve food I often think, "How did the pioneers do this? And preserve enough to eat all winter?" The answer, they didn't. They all starved to death and we are descendants of an invading alien tribe."

    this had me giggling for about 5 minutes. I wonder that all the time, too. actually, yesterday we went to the Stonewall Jackson Jubilee and they had this section of Civil War stuff set up with tents and beds, etc. I had been walking around all morning and afternoon so my back and ankles were screaming in pain by the time we got there. I decided that if I would have been alive at that time, I just wouldn't have gotten married just so I wouldn't have had a chance of getting pregnant.

    I have no idea how pioneer women did it. Traveling in those conditions while pregnant, giving birth in bad situations, and then even burying that poor baby in a lot of cases after going through all that AND never seeing that little grave again. Oh my goodness, I can't even think of it.

  2. I'm glad I could make you giggle. I think about it all the time and I'm grateful that we can be lazy.

    I'm sorry you were hurting so badly! But that must have been a cool trip. Also, why didn't Kyle just pick you up manly-style and carry you around? He probably could do it with one arm, kinda have you sit on his shoulder.

  3. he actually offered, and I threatened him because I was certain he'd drop me. Actually, there was a scooter rental there and we kept joking that I needed one and I could just hang out with all the old people. haha.

  4. okay, and we grew up growing all our own fruits and veggies - except for a bag of citrus at christmas, so have cut up aloooot of fruit. We would eat the soft parts during the processing. (nothing was wasted - if we peeled - like tomatoes, we had to eat the plate of leftover peels) so I would have no problems with your peach butter. :) sounds yum!!

  5. Ummmmmm, pancakes and peach butter. Sounds heavenly.

  6. I too was glad to see that another mother did not let the bad spots get wasted. Bren likes to *eh-hem* "remind me" the cut off bad spots but can never bring myself to doing so. Especially with butters and leathers, they really just add an extra sweetness that allows you to use less sugar. This year I'm experimenting with using stevia in my leathers. I wish there was a way to use tomato skins for something.

  7. Thanks everyone!

    Normans, you could use your tomato skins for veggie stock, that would be yummy. Then compost them, grow more veggies, and eat those!

    Caroline, that sounds amazing! I would love to be so self sufficient as that.

  8. Krista, could I use this method for apple butter? I have box of apples i need to use soon....

  9. Jillyn, yes you can! And then can it, or freeze it, we're choosing to freeze this year. The website pickyourown (dot) org has a lot of wonderful recipes for all sorts of preservation techniques. If you want your apple butter super smooth once it's done you can hit it with an immersion blender.

  10. so how many of the little jam jars do you get out of your crock pot? I have a 5qt crock pot, how much do you think i could expect to get? And how many apples do you think it will take?