Saturday, August 6, 2011

It's Just A Little Thing...

You might think the above photo of some once lovely stone fruit is looking a little like one might feel after a rousing night out with friends…just a little beat…and that what might be coming is a cautionary tale of produce gone wrong…but fear not friends…

At my last trip to the farmer’s market, last Sunday to be exact, the luscious piles of peaches, nectarines, plums and pluots cast their spell.  I was helpless, buying up bags of the juicy delights with no regard to our upcoming week’s schedules and how many meals and snacks would be eaten at home.  I arrived home with piles of fruit.  Now mind you we have given it the old college try, eating fruit with every meal, but I confess I went a little crazy…and there was just no way…
Now I want to say one word to you, one word, are you listening, plastics…no small batch canning (well actually three, but I couldn’t resist the reference).  Small batch canning is just what it sounds like, rather than make a giant production out of putting up pounds and pounds of your favorite produce, it involves small amounts and little time.  Whether it’s fruit from an overzealous trip to the farmer’s market that is about to go around the bend, that one extra tomato plant you put in at the last minute that has decided to commit suicide through over production, the need to have one or two jars of extra lemon curd in the cupboard just in case you have a need, or you simply don’t have the room for many jars of a single food item when there are so many other things to can, putting up small amounts of food at a time is the perfect solution.  Most preserving recipes are easy to revise to make smaller and there are even cookbooks dedicated to the subject.  The other plus is that this job can easily be taken on in an evening without the fear of staying up until midnight!
So back to my stone fruit…having put a good dent into our bounty through diligent consumption and some fruit still hanging in there, I had about 3 cups worth of mixed fruit that needed immediate attention.  I remembered seeing a recipe on one of the other food blogs that I particularly like,, for a mixed stone fruit jam.   I tracked it down and it was just what I needed…

Mixed Stone Fruit Jam

Adapted from ‘Food in Jars’

Recipe for aprox. 3 – ½ pint jars

Mixed Stone Fruit ( Peaches, Apricots, Plums, etc.) to make 3 C chopped fruit
 2 C.  Sugar
Juice & Zest of 1 Lemon

       1.            Set up 2 pots for boiling water
  A.       Processing pot
  B.      Lid pot
       2.            Wash jars
       3.            Get out tools
 A.      Potato masher
 B.      Jar lifter
 C.      Tongs
 D.      Wide mouth funnel
 E.       Towels
             F.       Chop stick
 G.      Ladle or big spoon
       4.            Put lids in small pot to heat
       5.            Put jars in canning pot
       6.            Peel Peaches and chop along with other stone fruit (Note:  if you drop the peaches into a       pot of boiling water for 30-60 seconds, then dunk into ice water, the peals will come right off)
       7.            Place all fruit in large bowl and add sugar, let mixture sit for minimum of one hour or as long as overnight
       8.            Heat mixture to 220D.
       9.            When mixture reaches desired temperature add lemon zest and juice
   10.            The jam is ready when a spoonful, dropped onto a plate firms up when cool.
   11.            Remove glass jars from pot
   12.            Fill jars with hot jam,   leaving ¼” head space
   13.            Remove air bubbles
   14.            Wipe edge of can with clean damp towel
   15.            With tongs put 1 lid on jar and finger tighten ring on jar
   16.            Put jars into canning pot
   17.            When water is boiling again, process ½ pint jars for 10     minutes
   18.            Remove from pot, cool
I cut the fruit, added the sugar and put the bowl in the refrigerator while we enjoyed dinner, and the air temperature dropped below 85, and after the dishes were all done, I cooked up the fruit, threw it in my jars, processed them and was in bed by 11:00, not bad, and there’s some yummy fresh jam waiting for us in the morning!

As an aside, any of you in the Sacramento area, I will be giving a small batch canning class at the Sacramento Natural Foods Coop on August  13th from 10 - 12:30.  So come and join in…it would be lovely to see you!

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