Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A Canned Labor Day

I had a very long day yesterday. It was full of errand running, sugar, and cranky baby noises.
First off, I got up and took care of the baby. Then I had a big bucket full of filthy jars that I was given from Sally English (who sold us our fruit and lent me her boiler to can) that I laid out on the lawn to hose down. I needed to pick up lids and rings to seal in the fruit, but I didn't have the cash to do so and had a couple returns I needed to take back to Ross so I could get the money. (Have I mentioned how much I hate moving and only because it makes wallets so blasted tight for a few months before and after?) So after feeding Jonathan again, we all hopped in the car and drove to Ross to return the goods and then drove to the super Walmart in Pico Rivera.

When we got to the canning section in Walmart, we realized that we didn't really know the size of lids we needed since there were so many different brands and a few different sizes. I could definitely tell it was that time of year again. The section was so picked over that there were no rings left and not enough of the size of lids we thought we'd need. Since Walmart sells that stuff so cheap, we bought two flats of quart jars that had lids and rings. I just needed to wash and sanitize them after I got home. (And they sell boilers for $18.98 so I'll definitely be able to afford that later. All the others I've seen have been upwards of $80. Talk about a bargain!)

We pulled up into our driveway, only to realize I forgot to remind Lars we needed to stop by Stater Bros. for a couple bags of ice to finish the blanching process, so we hopped in the car and he ran in to buy those.

When we got home again, Jonathan had been miserable right before we left Walmart, so we spent some time with him while I set up the kitchen and boiled the jars and lids. I fed the child again and put him down for a nap. I was beat because I haven't been sleeping very well the last week since Jonathan's been up late, even if he does sleep in. I crawled in my bed with the baby and flipped on the a/c for us both and closed my eyes. Lars came in to join us 10 minutes later, which was wonderful. I miss family naptime.

Around an hour later, we all got up, fed the baby again, and put him in the tv room to watch the Disney channel so Lars could do his lessons and I could start on the peaches. I called my stepmom to make sure I knew what to do and got to work. I made a giant batch of the syrup and put it in a bowl. Jonathan had a very hard time due to the fact that I had to get the peaches blanched, out of the boiling water and into the ice water and skinned before I could tend to him. Every time he had a meltdown, it would be right in the middle of one of those processes. If I tried to do it on a day while Lars was at school it would've been even harder, albeit, Lars was doing his lesson plans most of the time.

I forgot to lay Jonathan down for his evening nap in time since I was trying to hurry and finish the box of peaches and didn't end up putting him down until around 8:30. I thought for sure he would sleep through the night after crying all day from being lonely and bored, but my gut told me he would wake up in an hour or two, so I worked to finish the rest of the peaches. I was right. At a quarter to 10, Jonathan woke up and I discovered that some of the sealed lids had popped because someone touched them before they had a chance to cool over night. I was miffed. But I was going to be up for awhile, so I turned on the boiler again and waited another million years for the water to get to a rolling boil.

Around midnight, I knew Jonathan and I were both ready to sleep, even if he didn't realize it and the tired's hadn't hit me. I got Jonathan ready for bed (again), did my nighttime routine, and we had family prayer. I knew if we laid down together in a dark area he would settle. So I pulled out the scriptures and read to him. Before the end of the short chapter, he dropped off to sleep. It was very sweet. I don't get a chance to get him to fall asleep like that very often, so it made me feel successful as a mother. I had a hard time being away from my baby even thought I could still see and hear him. I don't know how working moms do it day in and day out.

Start with a box of peaches. (This is only a little over half the box since I forgot to take a picture before I started.)

Blanch 6-8 peaches in boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove and place in a bowl of ice water. Promptly slough off skin before ice melts and peaches are still warm. Cut in half, remove pit and place in a jar. Use melon baller to remove red walls of peach insides. Slice into pieces directly into jar. Shake jar to help pieces lay tightly together to get as much in as possible. Use a soup ladle to spoon syrup mixture in jar over peaches. Fill with syrup until there's about a quarter of an inch left before the neck of jar. (You need that room for the peaches to expand and not boil over.) Boil lid, dry and place on top of jar immediately while still warm to help seal better. Twist ring over top of lid tightly.

First two jars finished and waiting to go into the boiler. Put 2-6 jars (depending on size) into boiler and submerse for 25-30 minutes. Don't start the timer until jars are completely covered with water and lid to boiler is on. Promptly remove or peaches will start to cook.

25 pounds of peaches, 10 hours, and 15 jars later, I'm finished and waiting to do pears this weekend.

I'm really pleased with myself. I knew that it would be simple, but a long arduous process. I didn't realize how easy it would be to actually do it by myself, but also how hard it would be on me emotionally to leave my son to cry by himself all day long. They better be darn good peaches is all I'm saying!


Dragon Maiden said...

Huzzah!!! I'm soooo proud of you, I don't know if there's any way I could've done this by myself with a screaming child in the room!

The last time I helped can peaches was before mom and dad got divorced--so I didn't really do much at all to help, as you can imagine--since I was only 10 at the time!

Chiemi said...

You go girl! Home canned peaches are 10 time better than the store kind. You're making me want to go make some peach jam really bad!

Our Family said...

SO you can seal them in a boiler ,huh? I thought you had to use a pressure cooker. I have a boiler that I use with my salsa and jam. Maybe I'll try fruit now that I know I can boil seal them...

Andrew and Lauren said...

Sure did more than I did on Labor Day. I'm not a big canner or even one at all! I congratulate your hard work and patience!

Quixotic Healer said...

Mmmm...now I want peaches :)

Grandma Cherie said...

I am so proud of you! You are an amazing wife and mother! Those peaches look amazing