Friday, August 29, 2008
A jar of summer~
Today I decided to stock the larder for the coming winter. The abundance of peaches, some so ripe and ready that they are dropping off the tree, warrants more that the momentary pleasure of eating them with brown sugar and cream for breakfast.
I could eat peaches and cream for three meals a day, and still not eat them all before they drop to the ground for the ants, and something else that bites chunks from them sometime in the night.
I figured I could make peach preserves and have myself a golden taste of August when the snow flies and the wind beats on the windows this December.
I needed Ball jars. I'd given away the jars left over from my last domestic surge, an unpleasant event involving yellow beans several years ago. Since then I learned it was easier-- and therefore more my style-- to vacuum pack, and freeze fruit and veggies. And then, I stopped doing even that. Who wants yellow beans in the winter? Although, as I write that I feel a twinge of awareness that many people have far less on their plates than I do, and would devour yellow beans anytime, and here I am sticking my over-fed nose up at eating them in December.
So it's a little of that guilt, too, that makes me decide to can peaches today. That, and the idea of peaches on oatmeal in the middle of a New England blizzard. My mouth waters in anticipation.
I left the store having overestimated how many Ball jars I'd need. I stacked four 12-packs in the passenger's seat. The car treated me like a negligent mother, flashing the seatbelt light, then "pinging" in an ever-increasing tempo until I pulled over and buckled up my jar babies.
Of the 48 jars I bought, I filled four with peach preserves. Lots of labor to produce quintuplets. Loads of peaches to peel, and slice, but peaches are juicy and they take up much less space after simmering for a while. Still, four jars will get me through the month of December.
I had a moment of being very hard on myself-- about the time I took a nap while waiting for the sugar to "draw the juices" from the peaches. The recipe said this would take two or three hours and I was sleepy. As I was drifting off I chastised myself. If I was in a little house on a prairie and my family depended on what I preserved for their survival through the months of winter, would I take a nap? Probably not, but only because the house in my imagination had only one room and I had five crying children under the age of ten wandering near an open fireplace while I tried to get comfortable on my cornhusk mattress.
In real life, I had a nice nap, and woke to finish "putting up" my four pints of peaches. Good thing I have an empty nest. But I just might can some salsa and tomato sauce tomorrow. And maybe put some of my seashells in some of the other jars. That's a nice touch of summer that will see me through the winter when the peaches are gone.
"In the depths of winter I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer."~ Albert Camus