Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Life's a Peach (Preserves) - A DIY tutorial

This is my first attempt at a DIY tutorial, so be nice!

If you live in the NorthEastern US (I'm in NYC), you may know that peaches are in season, both yellow and white!

Last year I began canning things because of ReadyMade Magazine. There was an article called "Put Up or Shut Up" and I immediately ordered a number of books on the subject.

Since then, I've made TONS of apple butter, and despite asking that the giftees merely return my half-pint ball jars when done, many have not done so. Needless to say, if you don't return a canner's ball jars, they will NOT be gifting you with the latest fruit of their canning labor.

I've been meaning to make strawberry preserves for ages and have 2 quarts of locally grown strawberries in my freezer but have yet to make them.

Today? I am attempting to make peach preserves!

They are hott-packed, so no PH testing is required. Below is what you need to get started:

The Usual Suspects:
6 half pint or 3 pint mason jars and lids w/ complete seals. (I use Ball jars)
1 very deep large lobster pot (for hot pack)
1 pair tongs
1 canning funnel
1 ladle
1 large pasta pot
1 large wooden spoon.
4 cups diced peaches (peeled)
1/8 cup lemon juice
1 pack pectin
5.5 cups sugar

1. Sterilize The Jars:

Handwash or dish wash your jars first.
You can either sterilize using bleach or by boiling the jars.

I try to be as non-toxic and green as possible in my home, so I don't own bleach, I boil my jars. Place the jars, lids, seals and funnel in the large lobster pot and making sure each jar is covered by a couple inches of water, boil on high for at least 10 minutes, then bring the flame to a low.

For bleach sterilization, fill your sink basin with warm water and add 2 tbsp bleach for every gallon of water used. Place the jars in and make sure they are completely submerged in the water. Wait 10 minutes and carefully remove.

2. Prepare the peaches

I use a regular fruit peeler, I've found that if you run the peaches under cold water before peeling, the peels come off much more easily. Make sure you peel the entire peach, see that little skin I left on in the photo? That's a no no. I removed it after taking the pic. Cut and dice the peaches. Toss the pits, better yet? Plant them! =)

3. Prepare and place peaches, lemon juice and pectin in the pasta pot.

4. Bring to a strong boil over high heat.

5. Add 2 3/4 cups (half of the 5.5) of sugar and return to the beginning of a boil, stir frequently.

6. Add remaining 2 3/4 cups of sugar and bring to a rolling boil.

7. Begin a 3 minute timing before canning; at 2 mins, check for signs of jelling.
I use a metal tablespoon, put a small dollup of the preserves on the spoon, blow lightly to cool it, and turn the spoon on it's side, towards you. If it doesn't move once cool, the preserves are ready to be canned.

8. Hot pack according to safe canning practices:

Pack the jars one at a time. Place a clean plate on the counter. Using tongs, carefully pull a jar out of the hot very hot pot, place on the plate (for easy clean-up). Carefully remove the funnel from the hot water, grasp with oven mit, and set inside jar's mouth. Using a ladle, spoon the preserves into the funnel until full. That would be 1/4" below the jar mouth's opening.

Wipe any spillage off of the jar with a clean towel. Carefully (it's hot!) remove the seal and lid and place them on the jar, first the seal, then the lid. With two hot pads or oven mits, tighten the jar as tight as possible, paying attention to the jar and lid threads matching up. Turn the jar upside down, (on it's lid) and place on a flat surface. Set a timer for two minutes.

Once the timer is done, turn the jar right side up and let cool.

9. Repeat as needed.

The recipe is for 6 half-pints or 3 pints (only 4 are pictured). If you find you cannot adequately fill the last jar, make sure you refridgerate it right away and use that jar first. Jars not filled to the top cannot be hot-packed and stored at room temperature.

10. Make pretty labels.

I actually bought my labels as part of a kit called Pretty Pantry Gifts, but have been dying to design my own. Make sure the label includes what the preserves are, what the ingredients are, and to refridgerate after opening.

When canned correctly, these peach preserves should last you through the winter and well into the Spring as long as the seal has not been broken.

11. Enjoy! Share! Have a brunch party!

Ideas for these preserves? I like them on vanilla ice cream, pancakes, waffles, toast, peanut butter sandwiches...the sky is the limit!

If you make these preserves, please let me know how they turned out!

<3 Always,

Monday, September 7, 2009

My favorite 2 year old girl.

My family is full of toddler boys but no girls. I am trying to make more boy-friendly items for my shop, but in the meantime, I've completely fallen head over heels for my coworker James' daughter, Scarlett.

(Scarlett and James fooling around)

Scarlett is two years old and SO full of light, SO friendly, SO full of personality. I've only met her a handful of times but she left a really great impression on me and I instantly fell in love. She let me take her into my arms and carry her around and I can't help but smile a big doofy grin whenever I see her.

(The Front)

Scarlett turned two a couple weeks ago and I was invited to the party but had an evening class to attend. I whipped up a 2T retro-cut dress in a fabric I absolutely adore as a present for a friend to bring in lieu of my attendance. There are absolutely no choking hazards on this dress, it's easy on/off using a narrow v-cut in the back center neckline. I'm thrilled with it and plan on making a bunch more in different prints and sizes for my shop.

(The Back)

My friend called me to say that Scarlett immediately wanted to change into it at her party and did! And proceeded to get cupcake all over it! That means she had a great bday, I smiled when he told me. I hope to get James to take some photos of her in it sometime soon.

(Back neckline)

I am currently making a dress from the same style for another coworker's daughter, in a 3-6 month size and in this fabric:

<3 Always,

Sunday, September 6, 2009

I've returned!!

Happy September, folks!

I took my shop out of Vacation mode and almost immediately began selling items again! August was a decent month, especially because I'd been on hiatus for a few weeks and August is usually quite slow for most sellers on Etsy.

I also submitted a handful of photos to CraftGawker and three of the 6 were chosen for the site! So exciting! It is making me want to take better photos of my work.

My cherry tomato plants on one of my bedroom windows are ridiculous! I planted them in a window box and a couple months ago and they've practically taken over the window.

The plants have tons of flowers, but the fruit are slow-growing. I was hoping to be able to can cherry tomato salsa for winter, so as soon as any of the fruit is ripe, I pick them and freeze them. I've got two green cherry tomatoes growing to quite the decent size on one of my plants and a bunch of tiny little babies (1mm or so) throughout both plants.

I went to see "Julie & Julia" at the AMC @ Lincoln Center last night and realized I really need to keep up with my blog and following the blogs I love. I think it'd be fun to do a DIY tutorial every two weeks. I've been meaning to etch some glassware as gifts, so that will be the first one. Coming soon...

<3 Always,