We’ve got two pick-your-own orchards within a few minutes drive, and we’ve visited them several times this summer. Next year I plan to go even more. The first one, Shady Brook Farm seems to have fewer selections but does have a market and a nice playground to keep the munchkin occupied. The other one, Styer’s Orchard has many more trees and more varieties, but no market and not a lot for the kid to do besides pick fruit. There are other orchards a little bit further away that we haven’t been to before but I expect next year we’ll do a little bit more exploration.
We picked lots of great yellow peaches and made a few batches of peach jam to share with family. We also picked up 10lbs of white peaches early in the season and those ended up being a disappointment: Not ripe enough, not flavorful enough and spoiled too quickly.
All told I made two batches of regular peach jam, one batch with a little bit of vanilla extract mixed in (the small things can make all the difference!) , and two quart jars of peach halves in light syrup. The ones in syrup are already gone, Dana having turned them into a fantastic cobbler.
This picture shows four of the things I’ve canned so far, from left to right: a quart of cherry pie filling, a half-pint of a no-pectin cherry jam, a half-pint of peach jam and a half pint of peach vanilla jam. I’ll talk about the cherries in a later post.
My takeaways from this peach season are that white peaches and late-season peaches gave me some real trouble. I’ll keep that in mind for next year.
Mid September now and apple season is in full swing. For our first trip out we picked up about 10lbs each of Honeycrisp and Gala. The honeycrisp we like for eating out of hand, the gala have turned out to be one of our favorite varieties, both for cooking and eating if there are any left. I put up three pint jars of gala applesauce and two pint jars of gala apple halves in light cinnamon syrup. The sauce is already gone and the halves in syrup are looking mighty tempting. Next year I plan to get many more of both these varieties, gala especially.
Last weekend we picked up an apple pealer/corer/slicer contraption and to celebrate we picked 30lbs of Jonathan apples. These apples are decent and plentiful but we definitely don’t like them as much as the Gala. The first 10lb bag turned into apple sauce, and 5 cups of that immediately turned into a gorgeous Caramel Apple Jam. This recipe turned out a little sweeter than I would like, but it’s a great starting point for me to try new things next year.
The second 10lb bag of jonathan apples was peeled, cored, sliced and boiled down for a few hours into a nice apple butter. The flavor was good but I didn’t get the consistency as thick as I normally like.
This picture shows four apple products I’ve made already. From left to right we have gala apples in cinnamon syrup, jonathan apple sauce, apple butter, and caramel apple jam.
The last 10lb bag of jonathan’s turned into three quarts of apple pie filling. I normally use Stayman Winesap apples for pie, like my mother and grandmother before me. Those don’t ripen for at least another week or two, so I wanted to test the recipe with the jonathans. The results are not bad at all, and I’m looking forward to making some pie!