Cooking Peaches, Preserved, Baked and Delicious

Cooking Peaches- The Ultimate Summer Fruit

Peaches preserved baked delicious

Summer fruit brings to mind tomatoes, nectarines, plums, peaches and more. My favorite remains peaches. For sweetness and aroma cooking peaches can’t be beat. Preserving this summer goodness is easy. While you’re at it, save enough to enjoy now with ice cream, fruit toppings, fresh fruit salsa and in baked goods.

Start with fresh ripe peaches with little to no overly ripe soft spots. Choose for the delicious aroma, also. Whether you grow your own or buy from the local farmer’s market, harvesting and buying and cooking peaches, at the peak of the season will give you the best taste and texture.

Peaches

 

Preparing Peaches for Canning or Freezing

Soft fruits, such as peaches, tomatoes and nectarines are easy to prepare for canning or freezing. Once the fruit has been quickly blanched in a simmering pot of water,then, removed to a pot of ice cold water, the skin slips right off. The peach often practically splits open for easy removal of the pit. The peach halves can be canned as is, in a simple syrup or plain water. Or, you can slice, dice or chunk the peaches. Add a tablespoon or two of lemon juice or citric acid, to keep the fruit from browning. Mix to distribute the lemon juice throughout the fruit.

cooking peaches

At this point, you can place the peaches into freezer bags or into canning jars. I use a slotted spoon so I don’t get a lot of liquid in with the peaches I am freezing. Freezing is easy but has a shorter shelf life than canning due to possible freezer burn. I use a sturdy zip lock style freezer bag, removing as much air as possible. I flatten out the peaches into a single layer in the bag, which makes it easier to stack the bags in the freezer. When ready to enjoy, thaw the peaches in the bag in a refrigerator. 

Using the Skins

(note: if you have farm animals or chickens that you like to treat to your kitchen scraps, be aware that pits and seeds can be toxic. I do not feed peach pits to my farm animals for this reason. The skin however, is a welcome tasty treat)

Canning Peaches to Enjoy Later

Fill the jars with the cut up or sliced peaches. Add the peach juice and boiling water to fill the jar within a half inch of the top of the jar. Wipe off the rim of the jar with a clean wet cloth. Add the flat lid and the band to close the jar.

Process canned peaches for 25 minutes for pints and 30 minutes for quarts in boiling water in the Water Bath Canner.   Look for other recipes such as brandied fruits, peach jam and jelly and peach pie filling to use your peaches with, also. Since peaches are a high acid fruit,(pH under 4.5)  you will can most peach recipes using a hot water bath canner.

Other High Acid Fruits

Apples, peaches, tomatoes, nectarines, citrus fruits, pears and berries fall into the category of high acid fruits. It is important to use an approved canning recipe when using a hot water bath canner, because the acidity must be in a certain range. If you add non-acidic ingredients to the peaches, the total acidity will be lower, making it unsafe to can using a water bath canner.

peaches preserved baked and delicious

Dehydrating/Drying Peaches for Storing

Peeled peaches can also be dried or dehydrated for long term storage. I use an electric dehydrator,  but you an also use a sun oven for the same purpose. Store your dehydrated peaches in an air tight container or mason jar with a tight fitting lid. Use the dehydrated peaches in trail mix, and bake into cakes, or eat plain.

Eat Fresh!

While you have the abundance of good fresh peaches in front of you, don’t forget the obvious opportunity to enjoy them fresh. Serve peeled sliced peaches with ice cream, cereal, plain, and keep a few on hand for lunch boxes. We prefer our peaches cold from the refrigerator but they can sit in a bowl on your counter or table, taking a turn at being a summer decoration, too. Grab one as you run out the door, for a healthy snack. Cooking fresh peaches into a thick topping is delicious when added to homemade vanilla ice cream!

peaches preserved baked delicous

Baking with Peaches

As you can imagine, cooking peaches is amazing when baked. This will be a delicious way to enjoy the harvest. Peaches taste and smell like summer. The cakes, pies, crumbles, cobblers, quick breads and triffles you make with your fresh peaches will prolong the taste of summer. Preserving the peaches from the season gives you the chance to enjoy peach pie and peach cake for any occasion, all year long.

The Recipe

When I was on an extended stay in Georgia one summer, when my little Georgia Peach granddaughter was born, I really enjoyed baking for her family. I came up with a peach cobbler recipe one day, by melding together a few different recipes from the internet search. Some weren’t quite what I was looking for and some were just full of ingredients that we didn’t have on hand. I came up with an experimental cobbler that turned out to be very popular! After all, isn’t this what Grammas do? One trick I learned while developing the cobbler recipe was to precook the filling for a set time, and then add the top crust batter. This resulted in a more crispy and less soggy crust on the cobbler. It also kept the crust from over cooking.

cooking peaches

Georgia Peach Cobbler

Peaches preserved baked and delicious

for printable version of this recipe click here

FOR THE PEACHES

  1. 10 – 14 peaches, peeled, pit removed and sliced
  2. 2 teaspoons citric acid or 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  3. 1/4 cup white sugar (generously full)
  4. quarter cup packed brown sugar
  5. 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  6. 1 tablespoon all purpose flour

FOR THE CAKE TOPPING

  1. 1 and 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  2. 1/4 cup white sugar (generously full)
  3.  packed brown sugar -1/4 cup
  4. 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  5. 3/4 teaspoons salt
  6. 1/2 cup chilled butter cut into small pieces
  7. 1/4 cup boiling water

FOR THE TOPPING

  1. sugar – 1/4 cup
  2. 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  3. 1/8 teaspoons nutmeg (optional)
 

PREHEAT OVEN TO 425 F.

  1. Using a large bowl mix the peach slices and the citric acid together.
  2. Add the sugars, cinnamon, and flour.
  3. Stir to evenly coat the peaches.
  4. Pour the peaches into greased 2 quart baking dish or 7 x 9 baking pan.

BAKE FOR 10 MINUTES

 

FOR THE CAKE TOPPING

  1. combine flour, both sugars and baking powder and salt
  2. mix in the butter with a pastry blender or two forks.
  3. continue to mix until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs
  4. add the boiling water and mix until just combined
  5.  Remove the peaches from the oven and drop the cake topping in spoonfuls all over the top of the peaches.
  6. Sprinkle the cinnamon, sugar and nutmeg mixture over the whole dish
     
     
    BAKE UNTIL TOPPING IS GOLDEN BROWN ABOUT 30 MINUTES
    1. cool 10 minutes in pan
    2. serve warm

 

More about Peaches!

Peach Butter – Attainable Sustainable

Peeling, Canning and Drying Peaches – Common Sense Homesteading

Spiced Brandied Peaches – Homespun Seasonal Living

Peach Jam Two Ways – Common Sense Homesteading

Georgia Peach Cobbler – Timber Creek Farm

 

September is National Organic Harvest Month and to help you make the most of your harvests, In 2015 I teamed up with these other amazing bloggers. Please be sure to check out their tips and more: Rachel from Grow a Good Life – Kathie from Homespun Seasonal Living – Teri from Homestead Honey – Chris from Joybilee Farm – Susan from Learning and Yearning – Shelle from Preparedness Mama – Angi from SchneiderPeeps – Janet from Timber Creek Farm

 

 

 

Peaches, Preserved, Baked, Delicious

 

 




After the Harvest Fall Gardening List

After the harvestSeptember is here and for many this after the harvest time is one of well deserved rest. Fall is but hours away and the gardening season in my area is coming to a close. Unless you have a green house or some sort of sheltered growing system, the short days combined with the  cooler weather means not much will be inclined to grow. All living things need a rest and our plant life needs rest too. After the harvest,  if you are like me, your back and knees could use a chance to rest up before snow shoveling needs to be done.

There are some garden tasks to be taken care of before you call it over.

Clean and store all tools where they belong.

Don’t you just hate looking for your favorite trowel or rake in the spring? If you store it in a designated garden tool area, finding it in the spring will be easy. If it was cleaned before it was stored, the tool will have a longer life too.

Clean up the Debris

Pull out all dead stalks and remove the tomato cages, any support stakes,  and pieces of debris. Not only does it make it much easier to get started in the early spring, it makes your yard or garden area look cared for and well tended. 

After the Harvest is a Good Time to Fortify the Soil

Now is the best time to add to your dirt. Consider getting your soil analyzed and add the nutrient material that is needed. Soil is where the garden gets it nutrition during the growing season. Adding the correct compost or fertilizers now will give you a head start on the spring garden. 

Place any potted perennials in a protected area.

 A lot of my herbs are perennial and they have overwintered for a few years now. First I cut the growth back some, This allows the plant to rest. Then, I place the pots on top of a large table in our sun porch,  (protect the table surface with a tarp or water proof covering. I am not very good at remembering the plants during  the winter. Occasionally I would add a little water, but usually they remained sort of dry.

Planning for next spring!

After the Harvest

Gardeners love pouring over the garden supply and seed catalogs which will be in your mailbox soon. Everyone has their favorites. Not being a very solid gardener myself, I like to read the how to tips and dream about how wonderful it would be to grow a great crop of some exotic fruit.

It might help you when planning your next year’s garden to make a list of what you planted this year. Make notes about the different types of beans, tomatoes, peppers etc. Write notes so that you don’t  order seeds for next year if you did not particularly like a type of vegetable.

after the harvest

Keep Good Records

And of course write down which vegetables did extremely well for you. Keeping track of this will help you plan the future gardens.

I also like to note where I planted each variety of vegetables. I like to think I will remember but I usually don’t. It’s good to rotate the plants around your space to make sure you don’t deplete the nutrients in one spot.

What did you use for pest control? This year, I had a lot of  good luck with organic pest control products. Until I didn’t  and then nothing would take effect. Next year I need to be more on top of this situation if I want to continue to use only organic pest control. I am tired of sharing our vegetables with the bugs.

after the harvest

As you can see, there are still plenty of garden tasks to do, even in the off season. So grab your gardening notebook and get started planning!

September is National Organic Harvest Month and to help you make the most of your harvests, I’ve teamed up with these other amazing bloggers. Please be sure to check out their tips and more: Rachel from Grow a Good Life – Kathie from Homespun Seasonal Living – Teri from Homestead Honey – Chris from Joybilee Farm – Susan from Learning and Yearning – Shelle from Preparedness Mama – Angi from SchneiderPeeps – Janet from Timber Creek Farm

The Gardening Notebook is the ultimate gardening tool. This printable notebook has over 120 pages of




Sharing the Harvest, Being the Recipient

Sharing the Harvest

Sharing the Harvest

Some years I had so much produce I would take bags of squash to work with me. We had some abundant years where the shredded zucchini in my freezer lasted much longer than the winter. We fed neighbors and left the anonymous bags of zucchini on doorsteps. We enjoyed sharing the harvest. And then, there was this year. In my effort to get enough produce for canning and freezing but not have an over abundance of food, I started a whole new garden plot. I added soil and compost and fertilizer. I planted what I thought would yield the return I was looking for. Six different types of tomatoes but only one of each variety, a few pepper plants,green onions, yellow squash, zucchini and cucumbers, with a many of them training to climb up a trellis or cage. I carefully watched for bottom rot, insects, and weak leaf coloring. Things started off well. The herbs and greens had a good spring. The tomatoes were thriving and I didn’t see any bugs! I thought I might have it right for once. The vine vegetables were vining, the tomatoes were blossoming and the peppers were already producing. And, then it stopped. Beetles found their way to my garden and although I stood there hand picking them off and crushing them, they continued to increase. I used neem oil and organic pest repellents for vegetable plants. I picked more beetles. And the plants died. They withered away despite my efforts. Except for the cherry tomato (seriously, do those ever die?) and the green onions. My herbs continued to do well but I am not a rabbit and cannot live on herbs alone.

 

Sharing the harvest

Being the Recipient

Enter, my generous friend with an abundance this year. Not only did she have plenty to sell and plenty for her families needs but she offered me the seconds, for no charge! What?? I was overwhelmed. I had shared with her my love of canning and putting up fresh food for winter. Actually, first she had offered the “second” for the chickens and pigs to enjoy. But I confessed that her “second” were way too good to all go to the pigs. I did ask if she would sell them to me for canning and she said no, I was welcome to them. This generosity touched my heart in so many ways. This blessed me because I would still be able to can produce for my family and enjoy some extra during the season as well. I had not been on this end of the generosity scale as far as gardening was concerned. Always happy to share our abundance during the summer, I was now on the receiving end and I can’t even put into words the emotions it brought up.

What is a born giver to do when on the receiving end of generosity?

I passed it on.

A long time friend and I recently reconnected and I see her about once a week since she is helping with some work for our business. One day she offered to help me with the huge pile of tomatoes that needed to be blanched and cooked down for sauce. Now there is something else you might as well know about me. I am an introvert. I love people but I prefer my solitude and tackling projects on my own. But, this time, when help was offered, I said, yes I would love to have help with the tomatoes! So Kim and I set out to can over two bushels of tomatoes over the next couple of weeks. She had been wanting to learn the canning skill but didn’t know where to start. So, step by step, we covered canning tomatoes and she learned hands on. We did salsa and sauce and I am proud to report that Kim took her sauce and made delicious pasta sauce using it and fresh veggies from her local farmer’s market. Now we each have tomatoes, fresh from the farm, to enjoy this winter. No, not my farm but I am learning to be OK with that.

Knowing that my gardening friend was busy with her produce and plant business during the summer and did not have time to can, I also canned some produce for her. As each batch would come out of the canner, I would put aside a couple jars to return to her. After all, receiving is hard for me and I still needed to give back.

What did I learn from this year’s garden?

  • Don’t count your tomatoes before they ripen.
  • Beetles are not cute
  • Don’t plant so many green onions
  • Chives planted near your veggies will deter squirrels
  • Friends are special people and should be treated as such
  • Blessings come when least expected

It may never be easy for me to accept huge blessings, but being able to share the skill of canning with another friend, was the ultimate reward for allowing someone to bless my life. How has this season’s garden abundance blessed you and those around you? Do you have a garden over load story to share? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

 
September is National Organic Harvest Month and to help you make the most of your harvests, I’ve teamed up with these other amazing bloggers. Please be sure to check out their tips and more: Rachel from Grow a Good Life – Kathie from Homespun Seasonal Living – Teri from Homestead Honey – Chris from Joybilee Farm – Susan from Learning and Yearning – Shelle from Preparedness Mama – Angi from SchneiderPeeps – Janet from Timber Creek Farm

 

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How Much Food to Can and Store

How much food to can and store How do you know how much food to can and store for your family? Harvest time is busy and there is never enough time to get everything done. Of course like many things, there is no one correct answer. It will depend on how your family eats, how many mouths you are feeding and how many times you eat dinner at home each week. Knowing how much food to can starts with assessing your needs.

A Formula For Figuring How Much Food to Can and Store

Will you require something from your home canned vegetable stores for every day? Take into consideration that for many of us we can be growing or purchasing fresh vegetables at least a third of the year. In some areas we might be able to garden and buy fresh even longer. So for the sake of calculating, count the number of months that you don’t have access to fresh vegetables and fruit, locally. I will use 6 months to illustrate. 6 X 30 days (average month) = 180 days. I still have to shop at the local grocery for some things so I will also buy some canned vegetables and fresh foods from the store. We eat out maybe once a week, also. This roughly brings my total days for vegetables from our stock to 130 days. Also for illustrating, I will say we need one vegetable for each day of the 130 days.

peaches preserved baked and delicious

Canned, Frozen or Dehydrated

All three methods are good ways to store food. With some vegetables, we prefer them canned in jars. Beets, green beans and tomatoes are a few that I prefer to put up in jars. Corn and Lima Beans are good frozen. And for seasoning soups and stews, peppers, and onions can be dehydrated. Peppers are also good frozen.

 

How much food to can and store

 

How much food to can for your family

Tomatoes are by far the most eaten fruit in our pantry. Salsa is a family favorite and I always make a few dozen pints of salsa for the year. I also use tomato sauce for the base in many recipes. By far, tomatoes are the fruit that I put up the most. (want to know my secret to making my family’s favorite Salsa?)

Using the Formula 

Green Beans are another favorite, probably eaten at least once a week. For the time period we are working on, I like to  have at least 20 pints of green beans. If we run out I will have to purchase some from the store. I try to do all the green beans we will need at one time because it is a time consuming vegetable to can. First you have to clean or trim the ends of the I prefer to cut the beans so more can fit into each jar, but I have just placed whole string beans into the jars when I am running low on time. (really, when am I not running low on time!)  

Beets are another vegetable that we like to add to our meals. We don’t eat them as often as string beans or corn so I prepare less.

Carrots are often the last vegetable that I can. It seems that they are readily available in our area for a long time so I put that one off and do a canner full in late fall.

Continue on, with the notations of how many vegetables you will likely use. 

How much food to can and store

 

Don’t Overwhelm Yourself-  Here are a few of my favorite tips for canning and preserving.

  • I think it is easy for new canners to jump in with both feet and try to tackle too much at one time. I know I have been caught doing this myself. Remember, you are dealing with fresh food and it will spoil if you don’t preserve it in a few days time. I have purchased too much and ended up feeding the ruined fruit or vegetables to the farm animals.
  • Another tip for preserving the yummy goodness of summer. When a vegetable or fruit freezes well such as berries, sliced peaches, and tomatoes, store the amount you usually need for a recipe in freezer bags.  This makes it so much easier when you want to prepare something. You can easily grab one bag of fruit or vegetable that has been pre-measured.
  • When freezing berries I like to line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, cover with the berries in a single layer and freeze. When the berries are frozen, (it doesn’t take long) you can then put the fruit into  a freezer bag for long term storage. I think it is better than having a lump of frozen fruit to deal with when you want to garnish something with whole fresh berries.
  • For many vegetables, turning the canning job into a two day event can ease your potential exhaustion. Often I will prepare the vegetables on day one. Blanch the corn and remove the kernels from the cob. Place all the corn in the refrigerator in a large freezer bag or covered bowl. Next day, heat the corn, fill the jars, start the canner and complete the process. The slight bit of nutritional loss (if any) is worth it to me if I don’t exhaust myself trying to do all things in one day.

I hope that you have enjoyed reading my tips on what to do with your harvest.

September is National Organic Harvest Month and to help you make the most of your harvests, I’ve teamed up with these other amazing bloggers. Please be sure to check out their tips and more: Rachel from Grow a Good Life – Kathie from Homespun Seasonal Living – Teri from Homestead Honey – Chris from Joybilee Farm – Susan from Learning and Yearning – Shelle from Preparedness Mama – Angi from SchneiderPeeps – Janet from Timber Creek Farm




Volunteer Vegetable Plants and Edible Weeds in the Garden

volunteer vegetable plantsVolunteer vegetable plants invaded our garden! Our garden started off strong this spring, despite a cooler than normal spring. Cucumbers, onions, green beans, beets, kale and cabbage were planted into the rich, dark, fertilized soil. Everything was looking healthy and I was anticipating a good crop that would be canned and stored for the winter. 

Volunteer Vegetable Plants and Edible Weeds 

I was excited to see a few volunteer plants emerge in late May. I was hoping for a zucchini, as I had not planted any so far this year. One of the volunteer plants soon revealed itself to be a pumpkin vine and another had some sort of green squash. These volunteer vegetable plants  kept to themselves in the part of the garden we had not tilled up yet, so everyone was content with this arrangement.

TimberCreekFarm volunteer vegetable plants

Soon, however, there were more squashy type plants emerging and then more. It was beginning to get crowded in the garden, but as I weeded I rearranged trailing vines and made room for everyone.

In the Beginning

We were experiencing the best year, in many years, for cucumber production. Jars of pickles had been made and the cucumbers kept coming. And then, they stopped growing. Looking into this, I found that the pumpkin, squashy volunteer vegetable plants  were choking out all the other growth in the garden. They had their finger like vines wrapping around tomatoes, cabbage  heads, and the poor cucumbers. It seemed to happen in only a few days! The garden went from a bit overcrowded to choked in no time. Not only did I  have a pumpkin vine problem, but, other invasive edibles were making a valiant effort to be noticed, also. The smart weed, which flourishes  all over our property, had made it’s way  into the garden and was impersonating tomato plants. 

TimberCreekFarm weeds volunteer vegetable plants

A sticky, vine like weed was wrapping itself throughout, along with an invasive morning glory type vine and causing quite a bit of damage too. The garden, which was producing beautifully a few days earlier, was now struggling. It’s hard for me to choose  which plants would stay and which ones would have to go. We love pumpkins and I was happy to see so many on the vines, but we needed variety too.

TimberCreekFarm weeds

 

TimberCreekFarm

Luckily, I found a few of the plants were prolific at flowering, but were not setting fruit. So these were taken out. 

TimberCreekFarm

The only thing left of the cucumber vines in some cases, was the tiny garden marker

Unexpected Blessings

There were some unexpected benefits from the large leaf cover. I noticed that no matter what we did, rabbits were eating the tops of the green bean plants. The bean plants that were doing well, were the ones hidden under the broad leaf protection of the squash plants. I left these bean plants where they were. Hey, it was working! The kale was also benefiting from hiding under a shady leaf. Kale, which is usually a cooler weather crop, was still producing new leaves of dark green. 
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TimberCreekFarm Volunteer vegetable plants

The kale and green bean plants hiding under the squash leaves were doing pretty well in their sheltered hideout.

How I handled the Volunteer Vegetable Plants

 The viny morning glory needed to be pulled. I pulled what I could find. It wraps itself around the tomato vines and stems. When you pull the morning glory vine, you often damage the tomato plant if you aren’t careful. I carefully traced the vines back to the ground level and carefully  clip it off there. 

What do we have?

So far, the only weed, edible forage that is  behaving itself in the garden is Purslane. It seems to be coming up in the bare spaces left by plants that were choked out by the pumpkins. Purslane, sometimes referred to as Pig Weed, is actually an edible, nutritional herb. Purslane is packed with vitamins, beneficial Omega 3 fatty acids and antioxidants. In many countries you will find Purslane sold in grocery stores and food markets. Any way, it is nice that it isn’t taking control of things as the morning glory vine is attempting to do.

Plantain also grows abundantly on our property and it probably grows wild in your yard, too. Both broad leaf and narrow leaf varieties are edible and medicinal in nature. Plantain is also a nutrition packed green, which can be eaten plain or in a salad, cooked in a stir fry or boiled. 

volunteer vegetable garden plants

Nature’s Medicine!

 Plantain has antiseptic, and antibacterial properties. When I see a patch of healthy Plantain growing, I pick the leaves and bring it home to store. The botanical is easy to store in a number of ways. Dehydrate the leaves and store the dried flakes is one method. Then use the dried material in homemade salves or just rehydrate into a paste, and apply to bee stings, insect bites, bruises, and other skin injuries. 

Plantain makes a useful extract, too. Place clean and dry leaves in a mason jar. Add vodka to cover and store in a dark cupboard for four weeks. Shake gently occasionally. Strain the mixture, discarding the leaves. Store the extract in the refrigerator and use in homemade lotions, salves, and other skin remedies. Use Plantain in a creme to add to your farm first aid kit.

How Did So Many Volunteer Vegetable Plants Start?

Why do we have so many volunteer squash and pumpkins? Last year, a very nice grocery store in our area,  agreed that we could have the pumpkins  that were  heading to the compost heap, and use them to feed our animals. So the pigs  ate a lot of pumpkins while they foraged in the garden space. And while they roamed and foraged, the pigs nicely planted some pumpkin and squash seeds. Just another benefit of free ranging pigs! 

TimberCreekFarm

Our fall garden is now sprouting. This planting area did not host pigs working in it, but it does get it share of problems from the rabbits, deer and other forest creatures. Which just further adheres to my theory, that in homesteading, gardening, and farming,  It’s Always Something! We may not have harvested all the vegetables we had hoped for in the main summer garden, but we did have plenty of good food to harvest. Pumpkins are so versatile and can be used as a side dish, in casseroles, breakfast smoothies, and baked goods, to name a few uses. We will not be hungry.

Care to share this? Here’s a fun image to use on Pinterest!

volunteer vegetable plants

5 Tips for Dealing with Volunteer Plants from The Farmer’s Lamp