If you are not lucky enough to live in a part of the country that has perpetual harvests of fresh fruits and vegetables, you need to read this!
Where I live, our fruit and vegetable harvest begins in May and ends in October, for the most part. That leaves 6 full months without anything to can………….or does it? During July, there are so many fruits and vegetables coming in (that means getting ripe in Okie talk) that there is not enough time on the weekend to pick, shop, prepare, and can while getting more mundane things like laundry caught up!
The following is an example of a July weekend in my home and you can do the exact same thing in yours too!
I hit the farmer’s market about 7:30 AM buying plums, black berries, peaches, and at least two different kinds of apples. I buy those fruits marked organic if the items taste good. I always ask for a taste if one is not offered.
By 9:00 AM we are home and I begin to thoroughly wash and dry all the fruits. Throughout the rest of the day I peel, slice, smash, and simmer all the fruits separately. While I am waiting on the peach peels, plums, apples and blackberries to simmer, I prepare the strainers, bowls and freezer bags I will need later.
Once the fruits have simmered and cooled, I begin straining, de-seeding, food milling and cheese-clothing the fruit and its juice. Following the amounts needed for each recipe, I spoon or pour each fruit’s amount into a freezer bag, squeeze out all the air and place in the freezer. These will stack very nicely.
With that much fruit to prepare, it will take me the better part of an afternoon to get it all finished. I will have enough fruit and juice for 1 batch each of plum, peach, and blackberry jams and 1 or 2 batches each of plum, peach and blackberry jelly. I generally have enough for 2 or 3 batches of apple butter.
On the way home from work on a Friday evening during the winter, I will swing by the store and pick up sugar, pectin, and jar lids. When I get home I’ll take out a few bags of fruit and/or fruit juice. On a cold and possibly snowy Saturday morning I will begin making jam/jelly/conserve from Summer’s bounty. occasionally, I will mix my fruit with some citrus for a marmalade mixture because citrus fruits are in-season in the winter.
Parceling out the work throughout the summer, fall, and winter makes the job much less overwhelming and you get fresh tastiness all year-long!