Thursday, September 17, 2009

Perfectly Preserved

To some, summer never achieves a proper finale.  There is always one more picnic to plan.  One more BBQ to arrange.  One more day at the lake to anticipate.  But it seems like that one more is often aborted due to the failing of the weather. 

As much as those golden days of summer are relished, I always look with anticipation toward the waning days of the season.  I find contentment in the cooler evenings, the return to a schedule, the peace of knowing that I've done enough.  For me, the true culmination of summer is all about the segue into fall.  I love that shoulder season--cool enough to enjoy the evenings, warm enough to walk bare-foot through the cool grass. 

I love the gardens, once full of purple pansies and cheerful impatiens, now golden with chrysanthemums and the hint of the returning fall's rich hues.  I love the rose hips, the burning bush, the pyracantha with it's orange-berried clusters. 

Along with the return of the rich colors is the return of the harvest.  There isn't much that can be compared to fresh produce from your own garden.  My dad always has had an impressive garden filled with more than we could ever eat.  His garden provided peas and potatoes, corn and cucumbers, squash and carrots and zucchini.  But my favorite indulgence has always been the fruit. 

I love peaches, and apricots, and apples, and pears.  I love them fresh from the tree, still warm from the sunshine.  I could eat one handful after another of raspberries, strawberries, or blackberries.  And I always enjoy them most when they've come straight from my dad's berry patch.  I love a ripe watermelon, chilled and salted.   The truth is, if my dad can grow it--it's gonna be good.  Of course, those who know me know that I make that statement with two exceptions...  I don't eat cantaloupe (or camel-lope if you're a buddy) and I honestly do detest tomatoes--they're too darn squishy!

Along with my dislike for cantaloupe and tomatoes, I do have to confess to one other (very) small quirk.  When it comes to the consumption of fruit, I don't just like it fresh...  I insist upon it.  I really mean it when I say I want my fruit fresh from the tree and warm from the sunshine.  I don't want it bottled, baked, sugared, or pureed.  I want it to look like what it is.  I want the texture and color and flavor to be entirely unaltered, unadulterated...

When I was growing up, my mom was known for her fresh raspberry jam.  In fact, it's still a requested commodity.  But jam equals not only squished fruit, but sugared and cooked fruit.  I just can't get past that.  I don't eat apple pie or apple sauce, and I can't drink apple juice.  I'll skip the blueberry buckle, the fruit cocktail, and the baked pears.  Raisins?  Don't get me started...  And please, don't put fruit in my jello.

The funny thing is this...  I swoon at the smell of a cinnamon-dusted, apple pie baking in the oven.  I drool over photos of berry-jumbled crumbles.  I dream of cranberry speckled sweet breads...  And I oft admire the rows of pretty jars, filled with homemade preserves.  I appreciate the tidy bundles of beans, suspended in clear liquid.  The juicy slivers of peach, the floating berries.  I can't really explain it, but I'm drawn to those things.

Despite my flawed taste buds, I agreed to bottle peaches with my mom this week.   My mom thought I needed to learn how to preserve fruit.  I agreed, mostly because I wanted the opportunity to create my own bottles of home-grown sunshine to pretty my pantry shelves.  The Princess joined us, and we quickly filled all the jars.  It's unlikely that I'll ever taste the pretty fruit in the glossy jars, but I did find a unique sense of accomplishment in knowing that my family will enjoy those peachy chunks of summer when the snow starts to fly.



honeypiehorse said...

Those look amazing. And it's a good skill to have.

Copyright 2009 Those Crazy Beans
Wordpress by WP Themes Creator