Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Canning With Kids: Peaches Slices in Honey

I bought 2 bushels of peaches for $24, which is a pretty great price. They were freshly picked on Saturday and by Tuesday they were perfect for canning (and eating!) The local fruit stands sell 1/2 bushel boxes for about $12-$15. Those boxes are about 25 lbs and the dimensions are 15-1/2" L x 8-1/2" W x 8" D. So yeah, that is 100lbs of peaches we got. Yum! I had the kids peeling and chopping for 2 hours today and in 3 hours we did over half the peaches and that was 20 quart jars of peaches.

Here's how to do it. Read all directions before beginning to ensure you've got everything!

An hour or so before you start - wash the lids & jars in the dishwasher.

Step 1. Fill a large pot with water and set it on the stove to boil.

Step 2. Wash peaches in the sink (about 30 at a time).

Step 3. Fill the other side of the sink with cold water, and add ice to it.

Step 4. When the water is boiling, add peaches (probably 10 at a time) and boil for 20-40 seconds. Scoop them out with a slotted spoon and put into the ice water.

Step 5. Repeat above steps. Meanwhile, get the peaches out of the ice water and put in a bowl on the counter. Set kids to work slipping the skins off and slicing into slices. The three year old can put the slices into the bowl of water that you're going to prepare next.

Step 6. Fill another bowl 1/2 full of water, and add about 1 TBS lemon juice to prevent browning. The sliced peaches should go in here. Now that the 3 year old is bored, assign her to watch the baby.

Step 7. Now get your syrup going. Boil 6 cups of water in a big pot. When boiling, add 2 cups of honey for light syrup (do 4 cups for medium syrup.) This is a great place to use that honey in your storage that has crystallized.

Step 8. Hopefully by now, the kids have the bowl full of sliced peaches. Scoop the peaches out with a slotted spoon and into the hot syrup. Set the timer for 5 minutes.

Step 9. Get a small pot and put an inch or two of water in it. Add the lids and start it boiling.

Step 10. Get a towel out and set your first two jars hot from the dishwasher on them. Get a canning funnel and put in the jar. When peaches are heated (5 minutes), use the slotted spoon to scoop peaches into the jar, tapping them on the towel to help them settle. When the jars are pretty full, scoop syrup onto the peaches. Use a table knife on the side of the jar to help the syrup settle (no air bubbles.) You want about 1/2" head space when you're done.

Step 11. Wipe the top of the jar with a paper towel so no residue remains. Get a lid from the pot of boiling water (use a magnetic canning wand or if the kids stole yours like they did mine, you can use tongs.) Put on top of the jar and put a ring on. Tighten, but not too much.

Step 12. Get your water bath canner or steam canner water boiling. Continue to fill your jars until you have enough to fill your canner.

Step 13. Put the jars in the canner and process for the recommended time (see your instructions.) My quart jars had to be processed for 35 minutes in a steam canner because I live at a high altitude.

Step 14. Call all the kids back to continue peeling and slicing, since they all ran away when your back was turned filling the jars with peaches. Repeat until you've got them all done!

Soft Cinna-Ginger Cookies

Sorta like snickerdoodles, but different texture. Much better for you anyway! My kids said they should be called "The Goodest Cookies in the World."

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

1/2 c. butter, softenened
1 c. honey
2 eggs
3 tsp vanilla

Beat all together in one bowl.

3-1/2 c. whole wheat pastry flour (soft white wheat), give or take
3 TBS cinnamon
1 TBS ginger
1/4 tsp cloves

Mix together in another bowl.

Add dry to wet and mix. Put on saran wrap and roll into a log. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Grease cookie sheet or put parchment paper on. Cut dough into circles 1/2" thick. Bake 8-10 minutes.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Strawberry Lemonade Slushy

So refreshing! The kids LOVE this one.

About 3 c. frozen strawberries
1/4 lemon (the whole lemon, not juice)
1/2 cup honey or agave
about 2 c. ice

In a blendtec or vitamix blender, put about 1 c. warm water. Add honey and blend. Add berries, lemon and ice. Then put in water to about the 5 c. line. Blend, adding more water if necessary.