So while hubby and toddler slumber away upstairs, I'm doing exactly what I've been looking forward to all day- canning peaches. The first four jars are bubbling away in the canning pot on the stove as I type, and I'm waiting to hear the delightful pings! of the lids sucking down and sealing to tell me all is well.
This is my first summer of preserving. I dipped my toes in it last year, making raspberry jam and pear butter, but this year I decided I would really go for it and try to put up something that will amount to a respectable little portion of our winter sustenance in the coming seasons of cold.
So far I have picked raspberries and strawberries with my mother, and done a combination of whole-fruit freezing and jam-making. The strawberry jam needs to be dumped out and re-boiled, as I used a recipe with no pectin and didn't boil it long enough, so it didn't set. Amateur.
Most of the raspberries were turned into raspberry onion jalapeno chutney, which I have yet to try (I can't bear to break into those jewel-like jars already while it's still summer!).
Then came blueberry barbecue sauce, which hubby broke into right away, and was quite yummy in the crockpot with pulled pork. I'll have to make more of that as I only made enough for two jars.
I took a stab at my first pickle-making endeavour a few days ago when I noticed there were just enough cucumbers in the garden for about 1 jar of pickles, and the dill had grown enough to handle me stealing a handful. I practically squealed with glee when I added that jar to the pantry; my first jar of actual solid food.
And now there are four beautiful jars of bright orange-yellow peach slices to add, and four more 3-litre baskets waiting to be peeled, sliced and canned.
Someday, I hope that this work will be more than a hobby for me. For now I am just learning. Every bean I pick from the garden and every jar I put up in the pantry is a fun and educational experience, but really, there's nothing riding on it. I'm not counting on having that food to feed my family in six months. The real harvest at this season of my life is Knowledge. Someday, when Freedom Farm is a real place with a mailbox and a wrap-around porch, I hope that I will have gathered enough seeds of knowledge to grow real crops of sustenance that will sustain us on our own brains and sweat. My dream is to one day produce the majority of our own food- animal and vegetable. But for now I rely on farmer's markets and grocery stores, and count the small daily handfuls of beans, cucumbers, tomatoes and salad greens coming out of our own backyard as a small bonus on top of a valuable education.
My learning curve in the garden this year has been exponential, and perhaps tomorrow I will take you on a little photo tour and show you the many things that are thriving and the many things that didn't work out- but still taught me something.
Yes, education is growing in abundance around here this year. Broccoli, is not.