exploring, preserving: past, present

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Autumn, Sore Throats, and Tea Time

Our house is full again. We host Chinese students learning to speak English at a local university. I love to cook, and I love to learn to cook new things from them. A go to recipe that many of our girls have happily made with me is a simple mix of raw honey, freshly chopped ginger, and fresh sliced lemon.


A couple of teaspoons of this in hot water is great to soothe sore throats. The ginger gives it a nice little kick. It’s also a tasty addition to any cup of dark leaf tea. Yum.


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A Recipe for Summer #Happiness…Into the Winter

Okay, I said I would move away from preserving fruits and veggies and into crafting (crochet, beeswax candles, soapmaking, etc). But I just had to share one more recipe with you all–canned peaches.

Peaches in hot water bath, briefly, preparing for peeling.

Other than canned pears, there’s nothing that says summertime bliss more than jarred halved peach preserves. They are glorious in their sunny colour, their fresh and firm texture, nestled in their lightly sugared syrupy goodness.

Peaches are skinned, halved, and waiting in water with a touch of lemon juice to prevent browning.

These preserves are definitely ones that take some effort (with skinning the peaches in particular), but they are well worth it to see their plump goodness in jars. If you plan on using quart jars (I did), count on fitting eight or nine halves into one jar.

Peaches waiting for their water bath–the final step in processing.

Here’s the recipe I used. The simple syrup can be adjusted for sugar content–I made a “light syrup” but you can certainly reduce the amount of sugar even more, or have none if you prefer! You also don’t need to use the lemon juice–it’s mostly there to prevent browning while waiting for processing. Enjoy!

Peach Preserves (makes 5 quarts)

20 firm, ripe peaches

1 cup sugar

4 cups distilled water

1/2 cup lemon juice

Sterilize 5 quart jars and lids. Keep them warm in preparation for processing.

With a sharp knife, cut an “x” into the bottom of each peach. Avoid cutting the flesh of the peach–the “x” will help in the peeling process after blanching. Prepare a pot of boiling water, placing peaches into the boiling water for approximately 30-45 seconds (no more!). Immediately pull out the peaches, place under cold running water (or in an ice bath).  Peel off the skins, using the “x” marks to help start the peeling process. Cut peaches in half, and pull out the pits (they should pop out easily if the peaches are ripe!). Toss cut, halved peaches in 1/2 cup lemon juice (to prevent browning); set aside.

To prepare your light syrup, mix 1 cup sugar with 4 cups distilled water. Bring water to boil, ensuring the sugar dissolves. Drop halved peaches into hot syrup and bring the syrup and peach mixture to boil (but do not cook more than 5 minutes!).  Many online recipes say you should be cooking the fruit in syrup for 10-20 minutes…don’t do it! They’ll be mushy and fall apart. Cooking for 5 minutes maximum ensures the peaches will keep their firm texture.

Fill quart jars with peach halves (squeezing in as many as you can–the more you squeeze in, the better they will turn out in processing!).  Fill the jar with the light syrup. Use a rubber spatula or non-metallic utensil to release any trapped air bubbles. Wipe the top of the jars, seal finger-tight, and place into a hot water bath.

Process peaches in the hot water bath for no more than 6-7 minutes.

Let cool–enjoy all winter long!



Saturday Upsides–Kitchen Mistake turns into Positive Partaking of Peach Preserves

My former English teacher would be jumping for joy at the title of this post.  😉

Well, I spent some time this week preserving a case of peaches. Peach preserves in light syrup are my husband’s favourite pick, and they come in a close second to my favourite–pear preserves.

Peaches in hot water, to make skin easier to remove.

All was going pretty well according to plan, except it was going too slowly. Too many peaches to peel quickly, too many things happening all at once in the kitchen. Ultimately, I ended up having my last batch of jars of preserve come out of the hot water bath too early. How do I know this?  The happy little “ping” sound of metal lids creating their vacuum seal just didn’t happen. Even crossing my fingers that it would happen overnight in the cooling process didn’t work.


So much effort, and now I had two quarts of peach preserves that couldn’t be stored for the winter.

Because I had spent so much time and effort preserving them, I was frustrated. But then our two Chinese girls who are staying with us (attending university) came into the kitchen and oohed and aahed at the jars. They asked lots of questions about how to make preserves, and kept saying how beautiful they looked. We ended up opening one jar and sharing big bowls of peach preserves right then and there–yum.

Sure, I knew that the contents would be good for a few weeks if stored in the fridge. My feelings of frustration were more about the amount of time and effort put into food storage that was supposed to be for winter.

What was the “upside”? Instead of having to wait a few months, I enjoyed a wonderful conversation with our two girls, and learned how much they love peaches and pears (and get them very rarely in China). Love it.

Which only makes me want to preserve more peaches and pears…for more conversations like the one I had this week with them!  🙂

Happy Saturday–and keep finding the positives! Join Bonnie and others by writing Saturday Upsides posts each Saturday!