|A great resource!|
|Sweet pickle relish or peach lavender preserves, anyone?|
That bucket made about ten quarts of pickles and two large bowls of cucumber-tomato salad (which I devoured delightedly).
For my peach creations, my friend Mollie and I spent about an hour Saturday morning picking peaches at the Cadron Crest orchard in Guy, Arkansas. It's only about a twenty minute drive from Conway and has amazing peaches, white and yellow, and nectarines. If you prefer a shorter drive, you can always visit Collins Orchard on Round Mountain, which is my usual go-to. Peaches picked yourself are only about $1.20-$1.50/pound. Be sure to bring a cash or check though! If you plan to can the peaches immediately, make sure you get ones that are already slightly soft on the tree. These are the ripest peaches and make the best canned foods!
My point is, canning doesn't require a lot of special equipment, nor much technical skill. You need a large pot to boil the jars in a water bath to seal them, jars with new lids and rings, and a pot to cook whatever you plan to can. Personally, I'm superbly excited to have dishes with peaches when winter comes around because I'm always craving them, but my desire to eat seasonal means I can only get them fresh in the summer. Canning helps you preserve food picked at it's prime, especially when you can local food (which, of course, is my suggestion). This means that the food you eat later will still contain most of the nutrients from the ingredients.
|Peach trees are a gorgeous sight!|
It may not seem this way to someone who grew up in the generations of the world market, but we are extremely spoiled by the ability to buy fresh produce year-round and never have to change our diet with the seasons. I've learned, however, that it is cheaper to buy produce in-season and preserve it than it is to buy higher-priced produce out-of-season. Preserving foods in jars allows us to continue our regular pattern of eating foods out of season, while also keeping the nutritional value of in-season foods.
I recommend that you take the time to try canning your own foods this summer and enjoy the fruits of your labor all throughout the winter. Happy eating!
P.S. Canning can be addicting, I swear. I have too much jam in my cabinets, so I only made a half pint this year, and only because I am already dreading the cravings for peaches I will have all winter. Can never have too many pickles or too much salsa though!