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2004-07-13 - 5:40 p.m.

After spending a few hours Peach Picking at Crooked Run Orchard in Purcellville on Sat, my week thus far has been filled to the brim with peach preparation! I've made Peach Crisp and pies, jam and syrup, and canned for the first time. The kids and I picked a full bushel of peaches at the cost of $25. We figured out that the preserves I made on Sat were worth a minimum of $27 so we broke even that first day (at a conservative estimate.) I did find however that the experience of canning was anti-climatic. After hours of blanching and peeling and slicing the peaches yesterday, I ended up with a measly Four Quart Jars which were less than half filled with peaches, and mostly filled with the light syrup I made for them. It was too much work for those results. Additionally I followed the instructions step by step and because of the volume I had been working with, the time in between each step was ENORMOUS! (Especially as I had to do other things while in the middle of the project like care for family.... so I'd leave the kitchen to later come back and continue.) So the gas stove ran for a HUGE amount of time keeping the lids sterile, and the syrup I had made sat on the stove simmering for HOURS! A total WASTE of energy which likely made up for any savings we could have gained by doing the canning! For some reason the preserves were less work for a greater output of food. Hmmm... that makes little sense at first glance, but I think the reason is that to can you must use Firm and not soft fruit, wheras for preserves any fruit will do! In fact for jelly or jam or preserves, the riper the better the flavor (as long as the fruit is not turned sour.) The very ripest and juciest fruit is the easiest to peel skin off of, and it is the easiest to pull from the pit. The peaches I used for the preserves were SO Ripe they literally fell off the pit at the gentlest touch! They were the kind no one would WANT to eat as they are too messy and soft, yet if you have the tolerence for the mess and unpleasant consistency then you get the reward of the most AMAZINGLY sweet fruit! The toddlers, who of course don't mind the messiness of them ate many! The firm fruit takes much more work and more time to peel and get off the pit. That must have been the main factor in the one job seeming easier than the other. The other factor may be that I have made jam multiple times before, wheras I never before canned, so I had to read each instruction for each step I took . I in fact did so MANY times so as to avoid any errors. Because I was doing this task while all the kids were home and underfoot it was somewhat stressfull for me and MUCH more difficult than the making of preserves which I have done before!

Soren has been the family's chief KALE picker this summer. Although our radishes were not fit for market, we have had beautiful baby Kale which we have been selling for $2.50 for 4 oz! Thats a HUGE increase from the $1.00 per half pound we sold the same variety of Kale for a few years ago! The market demand has gone up as people learn of its Calcium and Iron benefits, and as they learn that the baby leaves actually taste good! There had been an increase in demand and a decrease in supply as more and more farmland here is turned into subdivisions. We also have a few cucumbers and a nice amount of Zuccini for sale as well.

WE do miss tremendously our old friends Michelle and Quentin who I regret I NEVER paid attention to the last name of! I wish I could look them up as they moved to FL!! They ran Sunshine Farms in Leesburg , along with Pumpkinville, which they sold the business concept of when they moved. Someone else is running a place called Leesburg gardens there now. We have to pay them a visit to see if they are interested in selling our produce. We had the BEST working relationship at Sunshine Farms,(got paid VERY well for our produce and flowers and got a great grower's discount on purchases there.) and also had a nice friendship with Michelle and Quentin. But losers that we are, we never took down all their info... we took it for granted we'd know how to reach them. Came back from NY to find them gone! I still have the nicest present Michelle gave me once just out of the blue after I admired hers: An umbrella that attaches on to a stroller! The coolest little gadget I have gotten good use of!

The kids are ostensibly folding laundry... I had better go assist as I hear Katerina entertaining them all with storytelling. She's amusing using mutliple voices and accents. But I better join them as I suspect otherwise very little laundry will actually get folded! Need to get it done and clear the table for dinner.

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