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August is a great time of year for me. It’s my birthday month, and I DO celebrate ALL month!!! But, it’s also the season where all things from the garden are ready for the kitchen. And my two favourite things come out when August ends and September makes its appearance.
When I was growing up, we had a peach tree in the back yard that gave us the most amazing fruit. Huge, juicy peaches that mom would can, preserve, cook and give away to family and friends till we all felt as if we were becoming peaches! But what a way to go!!!
That tree was pretty special in our family. Nonno had planted it, germinated from a seed from a peach that came from his own back yard peach tree. When my parents bought the house out in “the boonies”, nonno came out and planted that seedling in the middle of the yard and would regularly come visit to make sure dad was treating it right. I have no idea how long peach trees normally give fruit, but I know that this tree, planted when I was just two years old, was finally chopped down and replaced when I was married, with kids of my own. Well over 20 years of beautiful “nonno” peaches!!!
Mostly, I would just pull them right off the tree, while they were still slightly green and bite into their freshness. But my mom’s canned peaches were an awesome way to top ice cream in the months where fresh “back yard” peaches were nowhere in sight. Or to eat straight out of the jar.
Her process was simple too. Make sure you select good firm peaches, with no blemishes. Peaches you would eat, basically. You’ll need roughly 2.5 pounds of peaches for each 1L mason jar. A bushel gives you about 48 pounds of peaches or 7L. My mom always used a cold pack method where she would peel them, slice them and pack them tightly into mason jars. Then she would pour a hot sugar syrup over them, seal them and place them in a canner for a boiling water bath. (Alternatively, you could hot pack them by putting the peach slices in the hot syrup and bring back to a boil. Then drain, reserving liquid, and pack into jars.)
Sugar Syrup: in a large pot, bring to a boil ½ cup of sugar for every 5 cups of water. For 7L you’ll need approximately 11 cups of sugar syrup.
Pour the syrup over the peaches in the jars to within ½ of the rim, remove air bubbles, seal firmly and tightly. Process 25 minutes (from boiling point) for litre jars. Allow to cool over night, check seals and store to enjoy.
Trust me, they’re yummy!!!
Tomatoes. Mmmmmmm!!! My fondest memory of growing up, next to nonno’s peaches, was going into my dad’s vegetable garden, picking a nice plump tomato and biting in. I love tomatoes to this day, in any shape, recipe, colour or form. Doesn’t matter, somehow, just inhaling that fragrance brings me back to summers when I was a child.
Here’s a quick recipe that’s easy to make and so yummy, I sometimes wonder why, when something like this was available, anyone even thought of cooking tomatoes for sauce.
For 1 lb. of pasta (use your favourite shape, I love linguine), you’ll need about a dozen good sized plum tomatoes that are ripe and firm. Dice them as small as possible without macerating them. Add to them, ¼ cup of fresh chopped basil, 3 or 4 cloves of garlic crushed, and ¼ cup of good olive oil. You can also add 1tsp of crushed chili (or more to taste). When the pasta is cooked al dente, drain immediately and pour into your serving bowl, toss the tomato mixture with the pasta, sprinkle with ¼ cup freshly grated Parmigianino and serve with a fresh green salad and crusty bread. And watch how fast it disappears!!!
Ok, enough from me, I’m setting my pasta pot to boil and chopping me some tomatoes. Dinner is going to be yummy!!!