We headed back to Sebastopol for Ryder’s BFF’s 4th birthday.  The boys had a blast!  Jack loves cars/tractors, etc.  So I don’t think we had even stepped foot out of the car and he spotted the red tractor out in the field.  I’m going to digress a bit, we all loaded up in my van and headed to Sebastopol (which is about an hour drive).  I was laughing shortly into the drive, there were 4 kids in the back and Kendra and I in the front.  The decipal level coming from the back was so high, and I looked at her and said “and I want more!?”  It’s funny when it’s a one time thing for a short amount of time but is this what I would want to do everyday?  Loading up 4 kids and listening to their craziness?  Actually, yes!  I may sound crazy but I do believe I would love it!  Maybe not all the time, but I can handle the chaos.

So back to our day, we picked fruit and had a picnic and ate yummy cupcakes.  It was such a lovely day.  Of course I hauled fruit home, but I was much more conservative b/c I knew I didn’t want any to go bad and, to be honest, I was getting a bit burned out on canning.  So I picked enough pears to can 2 more big jars and some peaches (but we devoured those before they ever made it into a jar- which is what you should do).  I still had 2 giant baskets full of apples that needed to be cored and peeled so I went easy on the apples. 

On Saturday morning Ryder and I started preparing the apples for applesauce. 

 I’m amazed at how good of a helper Ryder is.  He peeled and cored about 1/3 of the apples, I would put the apple on the prongs and he would turn the handle until it was peeled and cored and then drop the apple into the lemon water bath. 

 We had fun and he’s so stoked about eating applesauce that he actually made!  That’s what is so great about having kids help with cooking (or anything for that matter).  There is a sense of pride and accomplishment.  I find he is much more open to trying different foods when he’s helped in making or growing or picking it.

We have a small bag of apples left that I would like to turn into apple butter- but we are heading out of town this week so if they haven’t been eaten’ and are still there when we return that’s what they will become.

As for canning, I think I’m done, well I do think about canning tomatoes, but I might wait till next year.  My tomatoes aren’t producing like I had hoped (I need to change their location next year).  So I might just eat them all- we’ll see.

Day 3 of the canning is spent with my girlfriend and her Nonie – canning strawberries.  My friend has a daughter that is Ryder’s age- so they played and Saige crawled around while we cooked 3 big stock pots of strawberries. 

These were some of the sweetest strawberries ever!  I got 1/2 a flat from the Friday farmer’s market and the other 2 flats from the local strawberry farm (they aren’t certified organic- but they do not spray or use pesticides). I never buy conventionally grown berries of any kind because they are the ones that farms use the most pesticides with and it just goes directly into them- there is no protective skin (not that the skin keeps the chemicals from getting in). 

We had a lot of fun- canning is definately a process to be shared with others.  It’s a lot of work- even when working together- but it’s more fun when there is someone to chat with.

Unfortunately, the jam didn’t set right- so it’s more like a sauce.  I am going to re-work this batch.  I might save a couple jars as sauce- I actually have been using one of the jars on waffles and in my cream of wheat- which is super yummy.  I think it would be great over pancakes and ice cream too.  But I would really like jam too.  So this weekend I will try re-working it to get a more firm consistency. 

Last night I started jarring up the pears.  The Bartlet’s are really ready- if I waited any longer they wouldn’t be good.  The Bosc are perfect.  I peeled and quartered 4 big jars worth and then my hand couldn’t take it any longer (cramping).  So I will finish the rest tonight. (as you can see above I already busted into the second from the left jar- oh so yummy!!!)

So let’s see, I guess pears were day 4 so next is apple sauce for day 5.  I am borrowing my friends peeler/corer- so hopefully I will get that this week so I can start this weekend.  The gravenstein apples are ready!

Phew, this is a lot of work- but I just keep reminding myself of the rewards.  I do look forward to doing this when the kids are older and they can help.  It will be good bonding time.  Ryder was actually helping with the pears- he would drop them in the lemon water where they waited before jarring up.

We only boiled over the strawberries 2 times- so I’m getting better!

Stay tuned!