Thursday, I picked up a LOT of fruit: raspberries, peaches, apples and pears for canning. My two friends, Emily and Emily and I went in together to can all that fruit for our families. Three adults, three babies and 5 children (ages 2 to 4) in my house for two days straight while us moms canned. Starting around noon Thursday, we got all the raspberries canned and I finished half my apples that night (around 11:30pm).
This is a picture of my raspberry and apple pie fillings and peach jam. I didn't get a picture of our counter FULL of raspberry jam. Friday we started earlier (about 9:30am) and finished later (1:30am). We made apple sauce, peach jam, peach freezer jam, vanilla peach syrup (we had this morning on french toast, so yummy!), peach pie filling and we bottled pears.
This counter is full of vanilla peach syrup, peach jam and apple sauce.Peach pie filling waiting to go in the canner.We still had half the peaches and all the pears to do when "my Emilies" went home to feed their families. My boys and I had hotdogs and I put them to bed and got back to work. Emily and Emily came back and started at it again. By this point, we were all three over-tired and everything was funny. What a crazy, LOOONG night!
Emily D. filling jars of peach jam.Emily P. peeling pears for bottling.Me, working on the peach pie filling.Emily D. went home just after midnight after helping Emily P. and I with our pears. Then Emily P. went home after we got the last of the pears bottled. I stayed up to run the pears through the steam canner and finished up around 1:30am.
Here's a picture of my kitchen this morning. You can see some our our canned pears on the counters now. It doesn't look too bad. Emily D. helped clean up a while (mopped my super sticky floor twice and vacuumed my living room) before she went home.
My cute little "helper" going through jars this morning.This was really my first time doing something other than just jam or jelly, so I learned a lot. Here's a few things I picked up:
Line your work surfaces with towels. My mom did this when she canned and I've found it to be a great idea with my own canning. This way, all my hot jars, pans, fruit, etc. won't damage my counter tops (I don't have to use any hot pads) and when I'm finished, I just throw the towels in the washing machine and my counters are clean. Doesn't help with the floors, but cuts out quite a bit of clean up work.
When making apple sauce, don't drain all the water from the cooked apples before mushing into sauce (that's what I did). But don't not drain water either (that's what Emily did and we ended up putting it in a crockpot to cook off the excess water all day long). The next time I make apple sauce, I will strain the water from the apples and reserve it to add back in until I have the consistency I want for my apple sauce.
When making several recipes using pureed fruit, measure the fruit out for each recipe as you puree so you don't end up with 6 large bowls full of pureed peaches that you aren't sure what to do with. (This would be why our peach "pie filling" looks more like jam, there's tons of pureed peaches in with the slices.)
My little apple peeler worked great for pears too. It had a bit of a time with "knotty" pears, but it wasn't hard to cut the knots out as we cut them. That saved a LOT of time in prep work for the pears. We used the peeler to peel the pears and then I used my melon baller to core the pear halves. This also saved some time.
The next time I have an opportunity to buy several different fruits in bulk quantities for canning, I will limit myself to just a couple of fruits instead of the whole variety. I will also try to limit myself to doing one, maybe two recipes with each fruit. A LOT of time was spent over the last two days switching from one fruit/recipe to the next.
Also, assembly line works much more efficiently. Our first day, we had several different recipes going all at once and it felt a little hectic. So, Friday, we prepped fruit for one recipe, got it cooking and then started in on the next thing to cook/can. The assembly line method worked better for not being stressed and keeping the momentum going.
I really enjoyed the experience and while I'm not ready to go at it again, tomorrow, I will be doing it again soon. Hopefully, we'll be able to get bulk peaches again in a few weeks and bottle some. We all wanted bottled peaches this time, but didn't feel that we had enough peaches to do the syrups and the jams and such and bottle some.