Homesteading with the Lyles'

After working in the fields on Saturday, John and I had nearly two gallons of fresh picked blueberries. So, on Sunday morning we headed north to Oneonta to see my mom and learn how to can. It's funny how I grew up around my mother and grandmother canning fresh picked fruits and vegetables all the time, but didn't learn the homesteading skill until this past Sunday.

When I arrived my mom had the kitchen prepared for the day's work. Rather than using a canner, my mom used large pots big enough to hold the substance to be canned and the water to place the canning jars in. She also had a large array of tongs to handle the hot jars with, ladles to spoon the canning substance into the jars, large spoons to stir with, and a glass funnel to funnel the liquid into the jars.

Even though I had an abundance of blueberries to make jelly with, my mom surprised me with fresh picked peaches, tomatoes, okra, new potatoes, and rattlesnake beans upon arrival. Since the peaches looked so ripe, we decided to use them to make jelly with too. Before beginning, we had to make a stop to the local Hometown Market to pick up canning lids (a MUST!), rings, sugar, and pectin (my mom recommends using the "no sugar needed" type). Luckily, since canning is like an Olympic sport in places like Oneonta, there was a special "canning supplies" section located at the storefront.

After returning home,  we laid our supplies out on the counter while we put on a huge pot of boiling water. We decided to use 8 peaches which we estimated would equal around 6 cups once they were peeled and chopped. As soon as the water came to a rolling boil, we carefully submerged the peaches into the water and let them boil for 1-2 minutes (the intent of this is not to cook the peaches, but to warm them up enough to where their skin will easily peel off). Once the peaches were piping hot, we took them out and placed them in a bucket of ice water in the sink so they would be cool enough to handle. The skins easily slid off and we then chopped the peaches into quarters and removed the pits. 

After they were chopped, we poured 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice over them to keep their color from turning. Once the lemon juice was mixed in, we gently mashed the peaches- not to a pulp, but enough to break up the larger pieces a bit. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl-we mixed the packet of dry pectin with 1/4 cup sugar. Once thoroughly mixed, the chopped peaches, pectin/sugar mixture, and a 1/2 cup of water were poured into a large pot and cooked to a full boil (about 7-10 minutes).

While we waited for the peach mixture to cook, we put on another large pot of boiling water in order to sanitize our mason jars, lids, and rings. Once the pot of water came to a boil, we submerged our rings, lids, and jars and left them covered for about 5 minutes. Then we used our tongs to carefully remove them from the water and let them sit on a cooling rack. **Leave the water boiling after you take out the jars and such because you will need it later!

After the peach mixture was at a full boil, we added an additional 4 cups of sugar and continued to let it cook at a hard boil (while stirring occasionally) for one minute. Then it was canning time!!! We used a glass funnel and a ladle to transfer the hot jelly into our sanitized jars (which were also very hot!!). Once the the  rings and lids were screwed on tightly, we dunked the jars of jam into our pot of boiling water for 7 minutes. After they were done, we took them out and left them to cool on a cooling rack while we listened for them to "pop"-signifying that the jam was sealed.

It turned out delicious- as did our blueberry jelly. My mom also passed down a recipe for "Hot Stuff" (salsa) that's been in our family for at least 4 generations. So, needless to say- our afternoon was very busy, but we walked away with some delicious treats, a family recipe, and a new found skill!



Hot Stuff


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