Peaches are keen

September 01, 2004|EMILY TOADVINE

It has been a fruitful year. Most of my feeble attempts at fruit-growing finally have succeeded. The blueberry bushes that have received bag after bag of peat moss finally yielded some berries. Granted, it was 1/4 a cup at a time, but they were delicious and I grew them.

Of course, this is nothing like the harvest my brother and his wife make with their 18-year-old blueberry bushes. They have bought their two sons expensive tennis shoes and financed trips to amusement parks with their farmer's market earnings. Maybe one day, I'll have enough to make one measly pie.

After gleefully discovering the blueberry crop, I even was more amazed when my husband pointed out that there were apples on the tree. I've been stumped why the three apple trees never produced. This year, the winesap yielded three apples. What a windfall and we didn't even find half a worm when we ate one.


Despite these humble offerings at home, peaches rate as the summer fruit that I've enjoyed the most. Yes, I admit that was did split open one very tasty watermelon, but that requires a crowd to devour. I've stopped a couple of times a week at the red and white awning tent at Junction City to get my peach fix.

Sometimes eating these required a bib but when the juice runs down to your elbows you know you're eating a good peach. When I'm done, I've always carefully set aside the pit. I have these visions of planting them all around the yard and skipping from one tree to the next, picking sweet ripe peaches. I guess this idea stems from what I've witnessed my mother do. She grew a magnificent tree after putting a pit in the yard at her house. It had peaches that weighed a pound each on it. The only trouble was her unstrategic placement of the tree in front of a bedroom window. It was blocking the light and had to be pulled down. She'll probably never experience that kind of success again, but it won't keep us from saving those pits and seeing what sprouts.

With my luck, I'm glad I have the fruit stands to fall back on.

Peach Jam

Peel and cut well-ripened peaches into small pieces. Put into large kettle without the addition of water. Heat slowly. When peaches have begun to soften, crush them slightly. Cook slowly about 20 minutes or until peaches are softened. Measure peach pulp and for each cup of pulp add 1 cup of sugar. (You may add one box of commercial pectin at this point.) Return to heat and cook until thick, about 20 minutes. Pour into sterilized jars to within 1/4 inch of top. Put on cap, screw band firmly tight. Process in boiling water bath 10 minutes.

Peach Preserves

3 1/2 cups sugar

2 cups water

Five cups sliced, peeled hard-ripe peaches (about 5 large)

Combine sugar and water and cook until sugar dissolves. Add peaches and cook rapidly until fruit becomes clear, stirring occasionally. Cover and let stand 12 to 18 hours in a cool place. Drain fruit and pack into hot jars, leaving 1/2-inch head space. Cook syrup rapidly 2 to 3 minutes, or longer if too thin. Pour over fruit, leaving 1/4-inch head space. Adjust caps. Process half-pints and pints 20 minutes in boiling water bath. Makes about 6 half-pints.

Note: One or more of the following may be added just before preserves are removed from the heat:

2 drops almond extract

1/2 cup sliced maraschino cherries

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, nutmeg or cloves

Fresh Peach Sorbet

4 cups sliced, peeled, ripe peaches

2 cups sugar

1 cup orange juice

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Cookies, if desires

Strawberries, if desired

Puree peaches in a food processor or blender. In a 4-quart saucepan, combine orange juice, sugar and lemon juice. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and stir in pureed peaches. Pour into a 13x9-inch pan and freeze until firm.

In batches, process firm peach mixture in food processor or blender until light and fluffy, approximately 1 minute. Fill sterilized half-pint jars with mixture. Wipe jar tops and threads clean. Place lids on jars and screw bands on firmly. Freeze until firm. Serve each sorbet with a cookie and fresh strawberry, if desired. Makes approximately seven half-pints.

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