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Tis The Season...no not Christmas silly...Canning Season!! Posted on 24 Aug 12:28 , 3 comments

It's that time of year when everything is delicious, ripe and beautiful here in California! Or as I like to call it "Canning season!" Between the middle of August and beginning of September it seems that everything gets ripe all at the same time, so it's a busy time of the year in my little kitchen. Who am I kidding, in my kitchen it's always busy time...but anyways. The first thing I make is peach jam. People always ask me why I can things. First of all, there is nothing like opening up a jar of peach jam in the winter. It tastes like a little bit of heaven on a piece of toast or English muffin. Heck, my friend Kali eats it out of the jar with a spoon. And it's so much better than store bought, I like to know exactly what I'm eating, I like my food in glass, it's an old fashion tradition that I like to keep alive and it's so satisfying to see the fruits of my labors in my pantry when it's all done. I truly love it. I can't help it I just do!

I thought it would be fun to share with you how I make peach jam, so you could try it too! Here's what you're gonna need for one batch.

8 -1/2 pint jars and lids

6-7 delicious, ripe, juicy, organic peaches, you better get 8 or 9 because you're gonna want to eat a couple! I use peaches I get at Blum Ranch. Click here for link.

7 cups sugar (yes that's right! Don't use less it won't work)

1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice

2 pouches Certo liquid pectin -for link click here

Fruit Fresh powder (optional) click here for link

Large pot for jam

A steam canner. I use steam canner here's a link. It's a lot easier than water bath.

Jar lifter and lid lifter,  bubble remover and funnel. Click here for the link. 

One batch makes about 7 or 8 -1/2 pint jars.

Here we go...

First put on some good music. Super important.

Now, prepare your jars and lids. You have to sterilize your jars. I use the dishwasher. Or you can steam in the steam canner for 10 minutes. Put your lids and bands in a pan, cover with water and turn it on low, just bring to a simmer. Keep on low until you're ready to use.

Now to get the peaches ready. Wash, peel and pit your peaches.

Then chop them up until you have 4 cups. Mash it down to make sure it's 4 full cups. I like chunks of fruit in mine. If you don't like it chunky you can run it through the blender to make a puree. Sprinkle with Fruit Fresh or lemon juice to prevent browning.

Put into your pot and add sugar and lemon juice & mix together.

Turn on the stove on low and it will start to liquefy and look like this...

Bring to a boil and let boil one minute. Then add two packs of Certo and bring back to a boil and boil 1 minute.

Turn off heat and let sit a minute or two then skim the foam off the top. This is not my favorite step. My daughter loves doing it.

Keep skimming until it looks like this... Might take a few minutes and it seems like you're wasting some precious jam but trust me it's worth it. All the impurities are in that foam so you don't want it in your jam. Plus it looks weird and ugly! No one wants to eat that!

Get your clean jars out and put them on a dry towel. Ladle your jam in your jars. I use a funnel it keeps the jars cleaner and causes less spills. Fill to about 1/2 inch from the top.

Wipe the rims of your jars with a paper towel saturated with vinegar. It cuts right through the sticky sugar. Put on the the lids and bands. I have a lid remover, it's pretty handy. It has a magnet on the bottom makes it easier to get the lids out of the hot water.

Put them on your steam canner. Fill the bottom of the canner with hot water. Put on lid. You can do this step earlier and have it all ready to go.

Turn on high, when the steam starts pouring out of the little hole in the front, set the timer for 10 minutes.

When done, wait a few minutes remove lid away from you, the steam is hot and remove the jars and remove jars and place on dry towel.

Let cool 24 hours. Remove rings and wash!

Now you have delicious home made jam. Go make a piece of toast or grab a spoon, put your feet up and enjoy! It's so good!

 


Peaches and Pears and Lilacs! Oh my! Posted on 20 Aug 15:40 , 1 comment

 

Every year in the middle of August I make peach jam for my family to eat and to give away at Christmas. I always go to Blum Ranch out in Acton, California to get my peaches. I love to go there. The air is so clean and they have the best peaches I've ever eaten. Plus it's old and cute and right up my alley and I love supporting their business. Click here to see how cute it is for yourself... It's over 110 years old. I make at least two trips a year. Once in spring for the Lilacs (they have lilac orchards and you can buy a super huge bouquet, and I do mean huge, it's like 3 feet tall. for $18.00) and then in the middle of August for peaches, pears and what ever else sounds good.

It's out in the middle of no where, about 4-5 miles from the Santiago off ramp on the14 Freeway going towards Palmdale/Lancaster. When you get there you drive on a little dirt road, through the orchard to get to the building where they sell the peaches, pears, tomatoes, honey, jams and jellies and depending on what's in season, lots of other good stuff. His cantaloupe is so amazing.  You can stroll through the orchards, sit on the tractors and take pictures. You just can't pick the fruit unless it's the figs. They let us pick the figs for a dollar a pound last time we were there.

Not very fancy, but full of character and charm. I love it. When you get there you're greeted by Ray Billet and his wife Elizabeth.

She was Miss Acton in 1952. In 1953 Elizabeth married her high school sweetheart, Ray. They were blessed with 3 children: Richard, Terry, and Donald, plus 5 grandchildren, Daniel, Joseph, Kimberly,Michiko, and George, the 5th generation. Since late 1953, they have continued working the ranch with about 60 acres planted: 1,000 pear trees, 5,500 peaches with 3,000 of those Blum's Beauty that Ray developed, and 4 acres of lilacs. They are continuing a family tradition started in 1891, over 110 years ago.

This is Ray yesterday posing for me. Dig those crazy red suspenders and that red hat!

And this is Elizabeth when she was Miss Acton 1952.

They live right next door in an old stone covered, two-story house, surrounded by giant pine trees, that is 110 years old. Peach and pear orchards on one side, lilac orchards on the other. Little dirt paths lined with old rock walls every where. Can you imagine how great that would be. Throw in some chickens and it would be my dream come true! Ray told me the inside is beautiful. Maybe one day he'll invite me in! Finger's crossed!! I'm putting that on my bucket list.

They even have their own water tower and lots of tractors.

So if you're ever in the area of Acton, California be sure to stop by and get some peaches or lilacs and say "Hello" to Ray and his wife Elizabeth! You won't be sorry.

p.s. I almost for got to show you the peaches I got. Aren't the beauties! Oh, I ate that one missing out of the middle, on the way home, I couldn't wait and it was juicy, sweet and delicious!