Welcome to the 2014 Peach & Blueberry season!
The energy is palpable. The truck will be here any minute. Old-timers have already formed a line. They smile and let the first-timers know what to expect. Checks are prewritten. Some bring a hand truck. All know they’ve been waiting all year for this day. The peaches and blueberries are here!
If you’re anything like me, as soon as you see the table set up and the smiling faces unloading cases from the truck you begin to recalculate. “Hmm, I was only going to get one case of peaches and two boxes of blueberries. But they look so good. Maybe just another box of the berries?” And when it’s my turn, even I can’t believe it: “I need four cases of peaches and six boxes of blueberries.”
It happens to all of us. The fruit is so good. We savor and share these rare treats with gusto. I cannot tell you how many times I have thrust a peach into someone’s hand saying, “Really, you have to eat this right now. It’s not like any peach you’ve ever tasted.”
We all have tricks to make fresh peaches and blueberries last longer. And they work: keep them chilled, don’t stack too many on top of each other, bring them out of the fridge in small batches as you want to eat them. There’s another method that will prolong the life of your peaches and blueberries, and that’s canning.
Home canning is enjoying a resurgence. I’ve been teaching safe food preservation techniques to Milwaukee area residents for the past few years. I hear similar stories from people who are interested in canning but are afraid to get started. They’re afraid of not doing it safely. They’re afraid it will take up too much time and effort for little result. None of those things are true!
You can do safe canning at home with a small amount of effort and investment. The link at the bottom of this page walks through a step by step primer on the technical steps to safely hot water bath process your peaches and blueberries. I encourage you to visit not just the Tree-Ripe truck this summer but this website. We’ll keep it fresh with new recipes, techniques, and times and locations of food preservation classes.
Just wait a few more minutes in line… I see the truck coming around the corner!
Christina Ward, certified Master Food Preserver for Milwaukee County