Monday, August 23, 2010

Another Day, Another Dozen Jars of Jam

Saturday N, R, and I went to Larriland Farm again for pick-your-own peaches, tomatoes, and apples. We brought home 8 tomatoes, 1/2 bag of apples, and 1/2 bushel of peaches. (I'll have to add a photo later to show you how innocent the 1/2 bushel box they provide looks. Really, it is anything but!) We picked them very ripe, which wasn't good because as they tell you on the inside of the box, the soft ones will bruise more easily. Well, live and learn. When we got home and realized that most of our 1/2 bushel was not going to keep until the end of the week, we decided to process them. Oh, wait, first I spent a couple hours clearing the last of the city compost out of our driveway, and starting to put together my herb garden. Then I sat down to peel four hundred peaches. (Okay, 400 may be a slight exaggeration.)

I peeled and cut enough to make a batch of jam, four tightly packed cups. N brought me a bowl and a better peeler and I did another batch. N brought me another bowl and I looked in the box. I could readily have believed that I hadn't taken one out yet. I did another batch. We called N's grandmother and asked her how to freeze peaches. She described how she takes any kind of cut fruit, slices it into ice water with salt, then dries it off and puts it in the freezer in bags, where it will keep "forever". Three massive bowls full of sliced peaches and three pair of latex gloves later (fruit juice aggravates my eczema), we were down to only about 20 peaches for the refrigerator, all the firm ones. (I should say that N worked like a maniac the entire time, cooking dinner and washing the dishes while watching and feeding R and drying and freezing peaches for me. Later we cooked and canned three batches of jam, finishing around midnight.

When I was growing up in Iowa many of my teachers were of a generation that had grandparents who lived in the state when it was truly rural, before electricity or indoor plumbing or reliable roads. They used to try periodically to remind us ignorant little children about the hardships of the prairie lifestyle - the constant work and uncertainty. I understand better now, about the uncertainty, since I had R. What it must have been like to do all of that work and be grateful to do it because the food you put up meant that you would have something to feed your baby in January.

Of course, my baby might need a little more food than most. He is not quite two years old, and while we were at the farm he ate 2 1/2 peaches (minus the pits), 1 1/2 apples (core, stem, and all), a handful of blackberries, and two grape tomatoes. Then we rolled him back to the car, where he promptly fell into a food coma. After his nap he ate an entire PB&J, about a cup of peas, and 2-3 more peaches while I was peeling them. He rounded it off with string cheese and goldfish before heading off to bed to sleep and grow.


  1. Good heavens! I'm glad I'm not in charge of changing the diapers of that little fruit fiend.

  2. Shaela I hope this happens again and again , these are the days you remember, when you made 2000 gnocci or more jam than you can imagine. Blessed tiredness.