apple seed and apple core

Turns out right outside my window is a view of the most magical apple orchard I have set my two feet upon.  Thirty varieties of crispy red globes of goodness a stones throw away.  You can believe I am gathering as many of them as I can get my hands on.


Amongst others you know…


We are making our sauce from the hew variety this year.  Roasting whole and coring and peeling with a food mill.  Then vanilla beans, cinnamon and nutmeg added in with a squeeze of lemon for color and I believe we will be scooping the good stuff for many months to come.  It amazes me how happy I am when I pop open a jar of home-made applesauce in February.  The smell of that fall day, the sun shining on my forehead as I look up my ladder, the feel of the cool sweet grass on my bare toes, it just comes back.  Beats a bottle of Motts, to say the very, very least.


Apple trees, being cared for well into their old age… as the proud owner of this orchard says, “It is a testament to the way we should treat our elderly…”.  It’s hard to see in the picture but the trunk is completely caved in.  It is a rotted half moon of a stump.  Then growing right out of the center at the top is a very healthy and producing apple tree, only needing help buy a y-shaped branch to hold it up.  Pretty amazing.


Any good stuff being put in your jars lately?

jam, crowns, and burns – {this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Never ever hot glue seashells to grapevine while canning peach blueberry jam with your one and two-year old around.  You will inevitably get burned.  Despite a trip to the urgent care (they make those glue guns hot these days!), I finished my little man’s mer-man crown for a themed party this weekend and all the yummy peach blueberry vanilla jam.

To finish off-  Bring to a very slow hard boil (a boil that still boils while vigorously stirring).  If you prefer a jelled jam add pectin.  I did not.  To test the consistency you can put a spoonful on a chilled plate for a few minutes and you will see the finished product.  When the jam is at 220 F turn off the heat.  Ladle into sterilized jars leaving 1/4 inch empty at the top.  Screw on lids and boil for ten minutes.  Turn off the heat and wait until it cools to take the jars out.  Make your labels and you are finished.

on blueberry hill

What a way to welcome in the summer… Happy solstice!  The south finds blueberry season so much earlier than I am use to.  But I am certainly not complaining, it was just right for the day.  My boys were thrilled at every turn.  Christmas tree farm (holidays are exciting even on the first day of summer), golf cart rides, friends to frolic with, and of course, blueberries to devour.  So. Many. Blueberries.  Can’t say I am not paying for my lenience on the matter now.

The folks running the joint were extraordinary.  They gave me the low down on the history of their business endeavours.  People’s bravery never ceases to amaze me.  After living in their double wide, planting each blueberry tree and christmas tree as tiny seedlings for thirteen years out in middle of not too much Georgia, they were able to build a beautiful home on their land.  Mrs. Brewer refered to it as their “last house” so they wanted it to be just so.  And let me tell you, it was glorious.  The land around them was impossibly green and alive.  Quiet as a clam.  Still as the hot summer day it was.

They toured us around on their golf cart, letting Rowan drive who was absolutely beside himself, scoping out the best spot for us to pick.  Full of remedies, knowledge, and handy work were these two.  Between their ingenious hands free blueberry picking belt…

and remedies for spoiled fruit  (one part vinegar to ten parts water rinse) I was soaking up their every word.  Well every word that my two would allow me to that is.  Either way, I felt that southern hospitality sparkle on my skin.  This couple was just plain old kind.  The type of people you want to meet again.

We picked until there was no more room in our buckets.  I was reminded of this book many times as Miles peeked into my pail to get a taste for what was Mama had picked.  Of course, I swatted his hand away!  I had plans for my berries.  All the while Rowan was sitting cozy ravaging berry after berry.  Blueberry bushes.  Natures first babysitter.

When deciding the fate of those juicy morsels I could not think past last years blueberry peach jam.  But, this year I upping it a notch.  Drumroll….. Vanilla blueberry peach jam.  Yes sir.  This one is going to go down in the books.

First peel.  Immerse in hot water for about 5-7 seconds and dunk into an ice bath for a few minutes.  The skin will essentially just come off with very little effort.

Next, slice and dice.  I choose the coarse chop.  Some prefer the thin slice.  While some opt for the all out puree.

Add one tablespoon lemon juice per 4 cups of fruit.

Pour in ungodly amounts of sugar.  I would say 3/4 cup to about 3 cups of fruit.  I know.  I know.  Canning is precise.  But, the truth is I am not a direction follower.  Nor am I really much of a measurer.  (How can I possibly be a baker??)  Anyways, peaches are full of natural pectin.  So, in my experience, this jam is one you can estimate a bit.

Scrape a few vanilla beans in and let macerate overnight…..  More on canning adventures when I am done.