Real Food
Savor the flavors of everyday real food, fresh from the garden or stored on your pantry shelves.


Putting Up an Abundance of Peaches: An Illustrated Overview

 

This has been a banner year for our peach (and apple) trees. I called UCONN’s cooperative extension service when this same scenario happened back in 2015 to ask why, and this is what was explained. Warm and sunny spring weather encourages bees to actively pollinate fruit blossoms. A dry summer with plenty of sunny days helps the fruit to grow well. In addition, dry weather discourages the growth of powdery mildew and other fungal infections. In other words, this summer we’ve had perfect peach (and apple) growing weather in our zone 5b Connecticut location.

Our four peach trees produced several bushels over the course of three weeks, so I had to get busy putting up these juicy, sweet delights before they spoiled. The first thing I did was refrigerate approximately a bushel to buy some time. We have two dorm-sized spare refrigerators available for moments like this. The rest I put up as quickly as possible before returning to the chilled peaches.

I filled our Excalibur dehydrator a few times with peeled 1/4-inch-thick slices. Typical dehydrating instructions recommend pretreating fruit in citric acid, ascorbic acid, or lemon juice to prevent darkening. I always skip this step and still have good results. I prefer to store my dehydrated peaches in the freezer. After cooling the slices, I loosely pack them in mason jars, tighten the lids, then condition them at room temperature for a day before storing in the freezer (conditioning allows the remaining moisture to redistribute evenly). The slices are easy to remove from the jars when frozen in this way, and thaw within seconds. Dehydrated peach slices pack a sweet punch of peach flavor and are a delicious addition to oatmeal, breakfast quinoa, cold cereal, and plain yogurt. We also enjoy eating them right out of the jar.

 I used Pomona’s Universal Pectin to make twenty-one half-pints of low-sugar jam. I followed the instructions enclosed in the box of pectin but added the least amount of sugar suggested. The resulting jam has an explosion of peach flavor without being overly sweet.

I also put up a batch of sweeter, looser peach jam by following the directions on the National Center for Home Food Preservation’s website under the category of “Making Jam without Added Pectin.” It actually came out more like a sauce, and is decadent when added to unsweetened plain yogurt or drizzled on waffles, pancakes, and the like. As an aside, there are delicious plant-based yogurts currently available. My favorite is the plain unsweetened Greek yogurt made by Kite Hill.

The peach salsa recipe I followed is also on the National Center for Home Food Preservation’s website, and is quite delicious! I processed sixteen half-pints for the pantry. My husband also grew the cilantro, red onions, red peppers, and jalapeños used in this recipe. The process calls for 5% white vinegar, but I substituted with 5% apple cider vinegar. The NCHFP states that it’s safe to make this substitution in canning recipes as long as the cider vinegar is also at 5% acidity.

Please note, when canning always follow safe lab-tested methods and recipes. In addition to the ones available online through the NCHFP, you can also find safe lab-tested recipes online through various cooperative extension offices, and in the Ball Blue Book of Preserving (look for newer editions). Family recipes and recipes you find when searching online may or may not be safe; the biggest concerns are botulism and listeria when canning or pickling. Preserving food in these ways is fairly easy, but it needs to be taken seriously and done safely.

I made a second batch of peach salsa and put up six pints in the freezer. Since I wasn’t canning this batch, I was able to modify the recipe by adding more garlic and cilantro. Please note that half-pint, pint, and pint-and-a-half jars are rated for freezing. Look for the “fill line” etched into the glass and don’t fill beyond that line or the jar may break when the contents freeze and expand. Quart-sized regular and wide-mouth jars are not rated for freezing liquid products, although I have had good luck using them to freeze dehydrated foods.

Plain peach purée was made in my blender on a low-speed setting to prevent the formation of unnecessary air bubbles. I used my FoodSaver to vacuum seal several quarts in BPA-free bags. Plain peach purée is delicious as a beverage and can also be used when making glazes, barbecue and teriyaki sauces, baked beans, muffins and other baked goods. In addition, I froze peach halves and peach slices for making pies, cobblers, and smoothies.

While in the midst up putting up the peaches, my husband suggested that I should try freezing some whole to save time. I looked on the internet and saw that others suggest this as well. I tried it and had very good results! I first arranged them on trays and put them in the deep freezer overnight. The next day I vacuum sealed the frozen whole peaches using my FoodSaver. I now consider this process to be the easiest way to freeze peaches, and I wish I knew about it years ago. I was able to freeze over 100 peaches fairly quickly and easily this way.

When you hold frozen whole peaches under running water, the skins rub off easily if desired. Once they are partially thawed, the peaches can be cut in half and the pits removed. Use a cutting board for this process; don’t hold the peaches in your hand when cutting them in half, pitting, or slicing! Frozen peaches (whether whole, halved, or sliced) can be eaten as is or used for making jams, pies, cobblers, muffins, frozen desserts, smoothies and more.

To make a simple yet delicious frozen dessert for two people, put four partially thawed and sliced frozen peaches into an immersion blender cup. Add a tablespoon of honey if desired. Blend briefly, then serve immediately using an ice cream scoop.

I hope this post has given you new ideas for putting up an abundance of peaches whether they are home-grown or bought from a local farmer or farmer’s market. Now on to putting up our abundance of apples!

Judy DeLorenzo is an author, organic garden aficionado, and plant-based diet coach foodie. More information can be found at www.ALifeWellPlanted.com. Read all of Judy’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

 

Bread-Baking Kitchen Hacks to Save Money Plus the Easiest Scone Recipe

Catalogs of all sorts regularly fill my mailbox. Prices in the kitchen catalogs are particularly shocking to me. Surely only millionaires with humongous kitchens can buy all these gadgets. The rest of us have budgets and struggle for cabinet space.

Dough proofer. First on my really shocked list is an electric bread dough proofer for $170.00. I think they do use one on The Great British Baking Show, but they’re always time constrained on that show. All the many bread books I have suggest a long, cool rise for best flavor and texture. I use a plastic underbed box, 28-quart, under $10 at most stores. Three of them fit easily on my dining table. Each tub fits over three loaves of rising bread or pans of rolls. If it’s really cold in the house or I’m in a hurry, I just fill a couple jars with hottest tap water and stick them under the tub for extra warmth and humidity. Gosh, I just saved $160. When baking day is done, I nest the boxes and shove them in a closet.

For the first rise, a stack of tubs that once held penny candy or bubblegum on a convenience store counter work perfectly. These tubs are the perfect size to rise to double or more a dough from 6 or 7 cups of flour, which makes two big loaves. Just ask nicely next time you see a tub full of gum somewhere, take it home, wash thoroughly with a bit of bleach and leave it open to air out a few days. Wash again, stack and store. My stack of six tubs is 25 years old and still holding. I suppose you could buy a full tub at Sam’s or somewhere, give the gum out for Halloween, and still save a huge amount over the same sized container for over $10. You will have saved $10, but I have six and usually at least two in use.  Is that $60 saved?  Or only $20?

Bread machines. Speaking of machines, if you’re thinking about a bread machine, before you invest in a Zojirushi for over $300, consider a less expensive machine to make sure you will make good use of it and to also determine whether you actually want a more expensive machine. I often bake small loaves, rolls, and flatbreads in my toaster oven and, for a full-sized sandwich loaf, am more than happy with a Cuisinart Convection Bread Machine. I’ve had mine over 10 years and it’s still available in several stores for $99, (often with free shipping).

Loaf pans for bread are priced in some catalogs at around $15. I confide that I bought eight identical loaf pans at the Dollar Store for $1.00 each back in 1999 and these pans, all seasoned now, are still in use and bake beautiful, evenly browned crust. I give them a quick squirt with oil spray and the loaves drop out when they’re done. My tubs and loaf pans look a little grungy now, 20 years in hard use, but they work perfectly.

Yeast. While we’re baking bread, if you do bake often, buy yeast in the 1-pound package available from several online sources, including Amazon (Prime), King Arthur Bread Company, Bob’s Red Mill, as well as the wholesale houses like Sam’s and Costco.  You’ll save at least 50 percent.

You certainly don’t need to spend $12 on a special jar for yeast. A quart jar (even just an empty mayo jar) holds 1 pound, works just as well, didn’t cost anything, and fits on the freezer door shelf.  I break up cheap $1.00 sets of measuring spoons and keep a teaspoon and a tablespoon measure in the jar. Same for the salt pig next to the stove.

Thermometer. One place I learned to spend more to spend less at the end is for a candy-jelly thermometer. Wal-Mart and the grocery stores offer this thermometer for around $3, especially around the holidays. After a few disasters, I realized that the cheap thermometers are a waste of money. Invest in a good one. Mine is a Wilton that cost $15.00. Considering batches of failed fudge and jelly, that’s a big saving.

On the other hand, the Therm-pro instant-read thermometer for about $12 works perfectly well to check meat and loaves of bread. No need to invest hundreds for a professional model.

Baking stones. There are oven liners and stones available at kitchen and baking stores. They must be wonderful, but they’re so expensive. Instead, head to a flooring store or big-box hardware. Look for quarry tiles or Saltillo tiles from Mexico. I found 6-inch quarry tiles for just 49 cents each. The 12-inch is $1.58. Pick up enough to line the bottom of your oven — be sure to leave space all the way around for heat to circulate. Get a couple extra just in case. You just created close to a brick oven for less than $3.00. I put six in my oven in 1999. I never take them out except every few years to scrub them clean. Put the tiles on the bottom shelf of a gas oven, on the oven floor for an electric oven.

Marble countertop. While you’re there, pick up a 12- or 18-inch marble tile for $4 or $5. Use the marble tile as your cold countertop to roll pie crust or puff pastry. I keep mine out of the way standing on edge behind the rest of my cutting boards. No need to spend $100s for a marble countertop.

Easiest Scone Recipe Ever

The first mention in writing of scones was way back in the 16th Century.  I’m pretty sure neither housewives nor castle cooks had fancy baking trays divided into eight proper wedges. Surely they simply patted out their rich scone dough into a rough circle, cut the dough into wedges and baked on the baking tray or laid out directly on the oven floor. Today, that method will save you something over $30.

Add spice, diced fresh or dried fruit, chopped nuts, citrus zest, etc., to suit. Notice you don’t have to cut in any cold butter. Easy! See the next installment of this post sereis for clotted cream to go with them.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • ¼ cup cane sugar, white or organic
  • optional: a little cinnamon or other spice if desired
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • about 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • more cream to brush top
  • optional: turbinado sugar for top

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a 12-inch pizza pan or other baking sheet with parchment or non-stick foil.

2. Mix dry ingredients. Beat the egg in 2 cup measure. Note volume and add cream, which will come up to about 7/8 cup. Add the vanilla then whisk together.

3. Add the wet mix to the dry and stir just to combine. Always use a light touch, folding rather than stirring hard, with scones or biscuits. You don’t want to develop gluten. Add any raisins, cut dried fruit, etc.

4. Wet your hands so dough won’t stick. Pat into 8- or 9-inch rough circle, ¾-inch thick, on the pan. Leave top rough. Brush with cream and sprinkle with turbinado. Score the dough into wedges with a bench knife or other cutter.

5. Bake at 375 F for about 30 minutes. Let the scones cool then cut through on the scored marks and separate the scones.

If you love cookbooks, you can browse book stores, of course, or Amazon. But, before you buy, check Better World Books. I’ve often found coveted books for under $4.00, nearly always at a steep discount. Many are used, some even a bit soiled, but Better World is also a charity that contributes books for world literacy. If you browse through, you’ll find some fascinating books on all topics of cooking and baking, even separated by country if you’d like to explore more international cooking.

Wendy Akin is a happy to share her years of traditional skills knowledge. Over the years, she’s earned many state fair ribbons for pickles, relishes, preserves and special condiments, and even a few for breads. Read all of Wendy’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Roasting Vegetables

 

Roasting vegetables is easy, they say. I have always heard that but never experienced it. Anyone can throw a dish of vegetables in the oven, but I found it difficult to achieve that crispy coated browning. The caramelized sweetness of broccoli, zucchini, onions. That perfect browned skin-like coating around every cube of potato.

I gave up on roasting vegetables long ago. My roasted vegetables were always just overcooked and oily. Or the opposite: dried out beets. I am looking for that crisp outer shell with a soft fully-cooked inside. The intensified flavor you get from concentrating sugars, drawing out a sweetness you don’t expect from broccoli, zucchini, eggplant, and onions.

Last week I gave roasting vegetables another try. I tossed them with olive oil, careful not to use too much, and baked for 40 minutes at 410. I took them to a potluck with good friends. My dish was popular: zucchini and eggplant sweetly softened; buttery garlic and onions; sweet peppers, soft potatoes. But no crispy edges. No roasted browning here, for the most part; flavorful and sweet, but soft.

Friends enjoyed them. Did I mention they were good friends? Dear, very tolerant, friends? Nobody complained, everyone was supportive and ate all their vegetables. When asked how I made them, I mentioned baking at 410. Andrea tilted her head at me. 410? She looked at me sideways. Who cooks anything at 410? “I never go for 410 for anything.” She seemed surprised at my choice of heat index.

It got me thinking. Why do I roast at 410? Is it my magic number? Or is it like wearing last year’s pant length? A shirt in an off shade of pink? Next time I tried 450 degrees. It worked! 450 is great! 450 achieves the crisp edges. The perfect potatoes. The browning I seek. Roasted perfection is found at 450. Thank you, Andrea!

Now I am roasting all the time. Most of what we eat is what we grow on our farm here in Maryland. Roasting can change with the seasons. Right now in late summer, we have potatoes, onions, garlic, zucchini, eggplant, red peppers. Later I won’t have zucchini or eggplant but I will add fall butternut squash and sweet potatoes.

I see all the delicious uses for roasted vegetables: pasta toppings with sauce or pesto, over rice, in eggs, on sandwiches, as pizza toppings, in soup. Leftover roasted potatoes make the best hash browns. My hash browns were always too oily and soft as well; now using leftover roasted potatoes, my hash browns are so much better.

Roasted Vegetables

Cut vegetables into approximately equal sized pieces, so they cook evenly. If you want to get fancy, put zucchini and peppers in a separate pan and roast for just 20 minutes.

Toss with olive oil, to coat. Not too much!

Sprinkle with spices like oregano and rosemary, salt and pepper. Roast at 450 degrees. For 40 minutes. Scrape and mix with spatula about mid-way through.

Honestly, you should hesitate to follow my recipe on roasting vegetables. I just explained all the trouble I’ve had with roasting. We’d probably both do well to check some other recipes. I’m still playing with this. Roasted vegetables are supposed to be cooked separately so they can be pulled out at different times. I found a chart for roasting times of different vegetables. Potatoes take longer than zucchini. Still I haven’t done this. They all stay in with the potatoes for 40 minutes, in it until the end, like a good team. Having said that, I bet the red peppers would benefit from half the roasting time. Will I be lazy and cook everything together, or will I achieve roasting multi-task prowess, pulling out separate trays at perfect midpoints? We shall see. And get this: the recipe I looked at recommends roasting at 400-425 degrees…and 410 is right in the middle of it, in full roasting fashion.

Ilene White Freedman operates House in the Woods organic CSA farm with her husband, Phil, in Frederick, Maryland. The Freedmans are 2013 MOTHER EARTH NEWS Homesteaders of the Year. Ilene blogs about making things from scratch, putting up the harvest, gardening and farm life on the farm's Facebook Page. For more about House in the Woods Farm, go to the House in the Woods website, and read all of Ilene's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Cooking with Kids

lavender lemonade drink

Lavender lemonade is a treat for the eyes as well as the taste buds.

It seems the younger children are, the more they want to help in the kitchen. Instead of giving them a play kitchen or a few old pots to bang on, take advantage of their enthusiasm and let them help with simple, fun food-related tasks. It may mean more time and work for you in the short term, but that effort will pay off big time and they grow into little chefs who can prepare entire meals on their own.

Here are some easy-to-make, fun tips for dishes even the youngest children can help with. Who knows? Your kids may turn into the next Emma and Ty, two young teens with their own gardening and cooking You Tube channel, From Dirt to Dishes: Kids Grow and Cook.

No Cooking Required

One of my childhood favorites was a rabbit-faced pear ‘salad.’ Good and good for you. It’s easy. Lay a lettuce leaf on a saucer. Top with half a pear, curved side up. The small end will be the face. Press three raisins into the each pair half for eyes and nose to make eyes. Ears can be made from slivers of carrot, celery, or almonds; a few shreds of cheese or pretzel sticks make excellent whiskers.

Every bunny needs a tail. On the opposite end of the pear half, place a dollop of cottage cheese, whipped cream, or a marshmallow—whatever your child is likely to eat, and voilà, your pear salad is complete and sure to delight the young ones. To add a whimsical and nutritious element, tempt the rabbit with a couple of carrot strips an inch or so in front of its face.

Go International

Individual make-your-own pizzas are bound to be a hit. The simplest foundation is a purchased flour tortilla for each child. Or you can make biscuit dough and let the children flatten out mounds onto a baking sheet with the palms of their clean hands. Spread a tablespoon or two of equal parts tomato paste and sauce mixed with your favorite Italian herbs on each pizza. Let the children sprinkle shredded cheese atop the sauce and then choose and scatter their choice of toppings from a variety that you provide.

You can use the same idea with tacos or burritos. Just provide a choice of fillings and toppings and let the kids make their own.

Or you can make simple cheese quesadillas

Snack Time

There’s nothing quite like a cool glass of lemonade after a hot day of outdoor activities. Engage the children in the making. They’ll enjoy squeezing lemons onto an old-fashioned citrus juicer (though you may have to add a helping hand to extract all the juice). Here’s an easy recipe. To spice things up a bit, consider adding mint leaves or lavender if your grandchildren have an adventurous food streak.

apple pnut butter mouth

It may be a little messy, but this cute snack was 100% put together with kid hands. 

You need a snack to go along with that lemonade, don’t you? Dress up an apple for a (mostly) healthy snack. It’s so easy to make and the kids are bound to love it. Start with an unpeeled, cored red apple. Cut the apple lengthwise into slices. Give them a quick dip in lemon juice to prevent browning, then pat mostly dry with a clean kitchen towel. Slather a layer of peanut butter on one side of each apple slice. Let the kids place miniature marshmallows side by side atop half the peanut-butter covered slices. Top with another slice (peanut-butter side down) and there you have it. Who wouldn’t be happy eating a smile?

Red, White, and Blue for Dessert

A patriotic cake is a perfect summertime dessert. You can even take it to your nearest July 4th fireworks display. Bake single-layer white cake in a 9 x 13 baking pan. When it’s cooled, frost with white icing.

Now comes the fun part. Let the kids help decorate with blueberries (in the ‘star’ portion of the cake) and alternate either strawberry slices or whole raspberries with the white icing for the stripes. Simple and striking. Here’s one of many recipes you can find online.

Special Touches

Consider purchasing an age-appropriate cookbook. Whether you have toddlers or teens, you can find one that’s suitable. Here’s just one set of selections

Why not do it up right and present your kitchen helper with a simple apron. Perhaps you could work together to cut one out and sew it up before you start your kitchen adventures. A child-sized chef’s hat will top things off nicely and put your little ones in the mood for cooking up a storm. You can purchase paper hats on line or make your own.

Bon Appétit!

Carole Coates is a gardener and food preservationist, family archivist, essayist, poet, photographer, modern homesteader. You can follow her Mother Earth News blog posts here. You can also find Carole at Living On the Diagonal where she shares her take on life, including modern homesteading, food preparation and preservation, and travel as well random thoughts and reflections, personal essays, poetry, and photography.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

So You Have the Shutters and Plywood ā€¦

workshop destroyed by hurricanes 

Can you believe it’s “that time year” already? It’s time to make sure you have enough food and water on hand because we’re fast approaching the height of the hurricane season.

And when is that? It’s the last two weeks in August, and the first two weeks in September.

I know it’s comforting to have the metal shutters and the plywood on hand (that’s if the plywood hasn’t warped too badly) - but what’s even more comforting is knowing you do have enough food and water on hand to get you through a week - just in case.

Keep an Eye on NHC

I’m sure the website NHC (National Hurricane Center) gets inundated with page views, but it’s part of my daily routine, until November. Having experienced three hurricanes in ONE year.

While the image makes me cringe remembering all the weeks of hard labor cleaning up the crumpled workshop, it also brought home the power of Mother Nature. When you’re told to leave - please leave. It’s just NOT worth sacrificing your life to save a structure.

Great sources of weather are NHC as stated above, and here is their link NHC - NOAA

Also, The Weather Channel is good (I prefer watching it on TV rather than visiting their overly-busy website). Gotta love Jim Cantore and the team.

sad man eating cookie

Folks Run Out of Food in Three Days

Did you know that most households run out of food in THREE days after a national disaster strikes? That’s all you have - NINE meals! Make the odds more in your favor by dehydrating your garden’s bounty.

six simple steps ebook

All it Takes are Six Simple Steps!

Learn more about the six steps here and pick up a free copy of our eBook! It’ll show you the necessary steps to take to make sure you know how to dehydrate food safely ~ for long term storage.

Until next time: Take the necessary steps to be prepared. And may this hurricane season be kinder to us all than it has been in the past.

To read all of Susan's posts, please visit this page on MOTHER EARTH NEWS.


Since December of 2010, Susan Gast has operated Easy Food Dehydrating, a website dedicated to dehydrating fresh fruits and vegetables, and cooked meats. Susan teaches you how to safely store your goodies too - for long-term food storage. Keep your pantry full - whatever the reason or season!


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Blackberry Chèvre Cheesecake

Blackberry Chevre Cheesecake

Summer is berry season and our area of Northern California is covered in wild blackberries, some people even consider them invasive. They might be invasive but they are so juicy and delicious! It wouldn’t be summer unless your hands are stained purple at some point from picking bucket loads.

With a large harvest from a neighbors vacant 40 acres and their huge wild blackberry bushes, and some of my homemade chèvre {goat cheese}...this combo made for one spectacular cheesecake! Mildly sweet from the berries with a hint of tang from the cheese, and of course that classic creamy texture. This recipe was adapted from Driscoll’s berries to better fit our palate.

Fresh wild blackberries

Blackberry Chèvre Cheesecake

Crust

  • 3 cups of graham cracker crumbs {1 standard size box of graham crackers}
  • 9 tbsp of salted butter, melted

Filling + Topping

1 cup of blackberries, extra to garnish

1 cup + 1 tsp sugar

8 ounces of cream cheese, at room temperature

16 ounces of plain chèvre {any grocery store should carry this}, at room temperature

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup sour cream

3 large eggs

Directions

Crust

 Preheat your oven to 350 degrees {F}, have your 9” spring-form pan ready.

Pulse gram crackers in a food processor until a semi-fine crumb forms. Once crumb has formed, drizzle melted butter while pulsing to mix and evenly distribute.

Press crumb mixture into the bottom and up the sides of the spring-form pan.

Bake crust about 13-15 minutes, or until firm.

Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees {F} and cool crust completely while making your filling.

Filling + Topping

Directions

1. Purée 1 cup of blackberries in a blender or food processor. Strain and discard seeds.

2. Stir in 2 tbsp of sugar, set aside.

3. Mix cream cheese and chèvre with an electric mixer until combined and completely smooth.

4. Mix in remaining sugar.

5. Add vanilla and mix again.

6. Add eggs, one at a time on low speed.

7. Mix in sour cream.

8. Pour batter into cooled crust.

9. Drizzle blackberry purée evenly over the top of the batter then using a toothpick, swirl the purée into any pattern you like throughout the batter.

10. Bake 50-60 minutes until edges are just set and center is slightly jiggly.

11. Turn oven off, prop door open and allow cheesecake to cool inside oven for 1 hour.

12. Chill cheesecake at least 4-6 hours in the fridge, or overnight.

13. Garnish with whole blackberries and a sprig of mint for some green. And then...devour!

Other great ways to use up a summer berry harvest: low sugar/no pectin jam; swirl berry purée into homemade ice cream; blackberry curd; blackberry-sage infused water; or freeze berry pies to pull out for an easy dessert any time of the year.

Nicole Wilkey transitioned from a corporate job to small-scale farmer in 2015. Since then she has run California based Flicker Farm to accommodate meat pigs, mini Juliana pigs, pasture based poultry and sells goats milk soap and lotion on Etsy. Connect with Nicole on Instagram and Facebook


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Fish House Punch Peach Jam: An Adult Jam Recipe

 

Back in the beginning days of our country, there was a gentleman’s club in Philadelphia where the men would imbibe Fish House Punch. Supposedly, they also hung out where no women could see, smoked cigars, and sometimes even went fishing. After a glass or two of their punch, they most likely were too drunk to do anything beyond napping. Punch recipe below. 

I took the punch recipe, which does contain peach brandy, and make it into a yummy jam. Although the alcohol is evaporated when stirred into boiling jam, the rum makes it an adult jam. Use only dark rum in this for assertive rum flavor — I use Myers.

Pair this jam with cheese for a dessert or scones for brunch. Add it to a cheese puff pastry tartlet for an hors d’ouvre. My daughter suggests brushing pork chops or chicken.

Ripe peaches are too soft to hold up cooking to 220 degrees to jel and I want texture in my jam, so I use a commercial pectin in this jam.

Buy 3 or more pounds of the best peaches* you can find, freestone for sure. Let the peaches ripen a day or two until firm and fragrant for optimum flavor. If you have more than needed for the jam, make a small crumble for dessert or just snack. Ripe peaches are fleeting.

Fish House Peach Jam Recipe

Makes 7 half-pint jars, plus a little

Ingredients:

• 4 ½  cups prepared peaches*
• juice of 1 lemon
• ½ tsp unsalted butter
• 5 ½ cups cane sugar
• 1 package SureJel
• ¼ cup dark rum, preferably Myers

Directions:

1. Get out your jars, wash and check any used ones for a chip. Get out the equipment you’ll need for jam making. Jam pot, funnel, ladle, knives, measuring cups and bowls at the ready.

2. Measure out the sugar and the rum now as you won’t have time to measure when it’s needed. Open the box of SureJel and place the packet next to the stove. Have a timer ready that is accurate for just one minute, counting down the seconds. 1 minute on your microwave will work as a timer.

3. First, peel. Bring a 3-quart saucepot of water to a boil. With a sharp knife, cut a small, shallow X in the bottom of each peach, then dip each peach in the boiling water, count to 15 and remove to a bowl. When all the peaches are done, sit with a knife, a small “trash” bowl and a large bowl for cut fruit.

4. Set up your water bath with a rack in the bottom and bring to a boil. Dip all your jars, lids, the ladle and funnel in the boiling water to sterilize them. Set the jars on a clean towel or paper towels on the counter next to the stove.

5. Slip the skins from the peaches. If they were properly ripe the skin will just slide off. Cut the peaches into dice. I make little wedges about 1/8-inch by ¼-inch by the depth of the slice. The way I do this is to vertically slice about a quarter way around the peach then slice across horizontally. Keep the peach on the pit to help you hold it. Peeled peaches are slippery, so be careful! Measure 4 ½ cups of diced peaches. You can add just a bit of lemonade (1/4 cup) if the peaches seem too dry to cook without scorching.

6. Following the SureJel directions, put the peaches into your preserving pot, add the pectin, stir well and start the heat on medium low until the peaches juice out some then turn up the heat. Bring up to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly to prevent scorching. A full boil means that the mixture bubbles again immediately when you stir. At the full boil, dump in the sugar and stir, stir quickly until the sugar is completely dissolved. Bring back to a high boil that won’t stir down and boil for exactly one minute. Shut off the gas burner or pull the pot off an electric burner. Immediately stir in the rum, which should sizzle a bit. Keep stirring for 5 minutes to prevent floating fruit.

7. Quickly, ladle the jam into the jars, filling up to ¼ inch. Wipe the rims of any spills, and apply the 2 piece rims. Put the filled jars into the boiling water bath and process at a boil for 10 minutes. Remove the jars, do NOT retighten the lids, and listen for the ping as the jars seal.

If any jar does not seal, that’s the jar you put in the fridge and use first. Or, you must take off the lid, wipe the rim, replace with a new lid and re-process. Store your jam in a cool, dark place.

* Note: In early fall, you could decide to use nectarines like ‘Big Jim’ and skip the peeling.

Recipe for Actual Fish House Punch

The original recipe served at a Gentleman’s club in Philadelphia is basically just lemonade and tea with a very big kick of rum, cognac, and peach brandy, about half booze. Very potent, drunk-making stuff.

Ingredients:

• 1 cup sugar
• 4 large lemons, juice and peels
• 4 cups cold brewed tea
• 4 cups gold rum
• 2 cups cognac
• ½ cup peach brandy
• a big block of ice frozen hard.   So as not to dilute the punch.  

Directions:

1. Peel the lemons with a potato peeler. Reserve the lemons. Add the strips to the cup of sugar in a jar and let rest overnight. Then juice the lemons into the punch bowl, add the sugar, stir, and then the rest of the ingredients. Stir well until the sugar is dissolved.  

2. Add the ice and garnish with the strips of lemon peel.

Just a thought: If you have a surplus of good jam, consider dropping it off at your local fire station.  The firefighters are at the station in 24 hour shifts and prepare their meals there if they’re not fighting fires.

Wendy Akin is a happy to share her years of traditional skills knowledge. Over the years, she’s earned many state fair ribbons for pickles, relishes, preserves and special condiments, and even a few for breads. Read all of Wendy’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

 







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