The whole thing began so innocently with an impulse buy at the farmer's market in July. I picked up some pickling cucumbers and got it into my head that I would try to make half-sour pickles. Within a few hours I had dug out some old mason jars, found a recipe, and before I knew it, this was sitting in my dining room:
And a few days later...pickles! I was so very proud and excited and eager to try more stuff. When my parents were vising over Labor Day weekend, I took them out to a farm to pick fresh peaches and tomatoes. My Mom absolutely loved it, and soon we had picked 40 lbs of peaches and about 20 lbs of tomatoes. The tomatoes were easy, and after a few batches of gazpacho and salsa, they're about used up. The peaches were a little more challenging. I've baked since I was a young kid, so before when I've gotten a little out-of-control when peach picking, I've used them to make peach ice cream, pie, cake, etc. But the pickling put all sorts of ideas in my head, and suddenly I was obsessed with making jam. Since I had no proper supplies, attempt #1 was plain peach freezer jam. It was so amazingly delicious, and I was determined to try more. Not ever being satisfied with only going halfway, I was wanted to do the real deal: I wanted to try canning.
I spent a couple of weeks gathering up supplies and reading whatever I could find on the Internet about how to can, and off I went. I started out with a peach rum butter recipe. The butter turned out pretty well, but the canning was a total fail. I knew my glass-top stove might be a problem and sure enough, it wouldn't sustain a high-enough temperature to keep the water boiling in the canner. Sigh. The yummy peach rum butter was relegated to the freezer, and I went back to the drawing board. The possible solutions for the stove required more equipment (a canner with a flat bottom and smaller circumference), which I really wasn't ready to invest in. But I kept reading and stumbled across another option--using a camp stove. I have a camp stove and the poor thing hadn't seen any use in a couple of years. Perfect! So last weekend, I cooked up some peach amaretto jam and attempted outdoor canning.
And you know what? It totally worked. The water boiled. All the jars sealed like they are supposed to. And now I have a new obsession. Instead of perusing the Internet for new knitting patterns, I'm suddenly looking for canning recipes, and I'm ridiculously excited about apple season now. I have a new craving for homemade applesauce and I think the whole family might be getting apple butter over the holidays.
Ironically, this morning I stumbled across this blog post that mentions how canning has recently become sort of a new fad. I had no idea my new hobby was the latest cool domestic thing to do, and I admit knowing that takes a hint of the wind out of my sails, but I don't think even that will slow me down much. Knitting used to be so exciting because I felt that I learned something new with every project. Knitting hasn't been like that for a long time, and I'm feeling some burn out lately. A new interest was definitely needed. So expect pictures with canned applesauce at some point this fall! But no worries that I will turn this from a knitting to a canning blog--I have way too much yarn to stop knitting (and a good bit more currently on the way). But for now, I'm off to make more pickles since I'm about out of peaches.