It’s undeniable even here in Southern California, fall is in the air. Though the temperature is nowhere near nippy, there’s a hint of a cool breeze, a different cast to the light, and a particular smell that all come with the changing of the season.
That means that we need to start cleaning up the garden. Some of my trials have punked out — believe it or not the nasturtiums I started from seed never really took off. I blame the crappy soil. I’ll remove the crispy remains and start planning to add lots more organic amendments to my beds in a few weeks.
Once I get things cleaned out, I’ll start thinking about starting seeds for a few cool weather crops. I won’t do many, again because of my heavy clay soil, but I’ll certainly plant lettuce and spinach in some containers. I might even do a small raised bed.
Hints of fall also make me want to preserve a bit of summer to brighten up gloomy winter days. So I’m going to put up some peaches. The easiest way to preserve peaches is to freeze them. Blanch (see recipe below) then peel and slice the peaches, placing slices on a cookie sheet. Put them into the freezer until completely frozen, then transfer into a storage container. (Smaller fruits like blueberries or strawberries can be washed and frozen whole.) Sometime in the depths of winter you are going to be so happy that you can whip up a pie or cobbler with that just-picked summer taste.
Canning is a little more time-consuming but not at all difficult. Most canned fruit recipes are too sweet for my taste, but I just found what seems to be a great recipe in the AARP Magazine that uses fruit juice in place of sugar syrup.
No-sugar Canned Peaches
- 6 one-quart canning jars with rings and self-sealing lids
- 11 pounds of ripe peaches
- 1 package ascorbic or citric acid
- 2 quarts unsweetened apple or white grape juice