A little while ago, we went to the Candelo Show. It's our favourite show of the season, and we all had a lovely day watching the woodchop, the dog high jump, eating watermelon slices, putting out fires with the RFS, watching shearing demos, learning about snakes from the snake man, and jumping on the jumping castle. But perhaps the feature of the day (for me, at least) was finding the most incredibly laden, fragrant peach tree on the side of the road on the way home. Yay for foraged stone fruits!
As I mentioned in my last post, stone-fruit-and-berry-season is my absolute favourite. Free stone fruits and berries, from side-of-the-road trees and bushes, somehow taste even better than anything you'd ever be able to find in a shop. And you'll usually find more than you can safely eat in one sitting, so in addition to the fresh deliciousness, you also get preserved deliciousness into the coming months. What's not to love, right?
Maybe it's their wildness, maybe it's their freeness, maybe it's just that picking fruit on the side of the road, in a beautiful setting, while happily gorging yourself on the fruit you're picking is just about a billion times funner than going into a shop and filling up a bag. Maybe it's the thought of the abundance, and the preserves that are going to be happing in order to capture that abundance. Who knows? All I know is that I bloody love it, and this peach tree was one of the highlights of my summer. Seriously.
We couldn't believe that with all that sunset-hued fuzzy deliciousness just sitting there on the side of the road, we were the only ones who appeared to be picking from this tree. Not even the birds had touched it! We filled our bags, and our bellies, and trotted off home, thinking of jam and peaches in syrup, which is a big time treat in our house. I have no words to describe the deliciousness of the syrup that comes out of those jars. I know it probably sounds like I'm a peach-crazy-raving-lunatic, but if you're feeling suspicious about the happiness and yumminess that can come from a mass of delicious foraged peaches, you're just going to have to get out there and find some for yourself.
And then you can preserve some. What you'll need to do is this:
1. Collect yourself some foraged peaches. I swear they taste better. You can use this exact same method for blackberries, as in the picture above, and probably any other fruit you can find on the side of the road.
2. Pack your fruit into clean vacola jars, or some other (clean) jars you may have lying around. If you want to enter them in the show, pack them in real pretty-like.
3. Pour in your sugar syrup. Mine was a 'light' syrup (if you have super-delicious fruit you don't need a ton of sugar), which is basically a 1:2 ratio of sugar to water, simmered til the sugar is dissolved.
4. Seal your jars, then process them in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes or so.
When they're cooled, they're going to look beautiful, so arrange them decoratively in your house, and enjoy the look of them for as long as you can stand not cracking a jar to taste.
We eat ours usually just served with cream and/or ice cream and/or yoghurt. The fruit is carefully spooned out, so that the precious precious juices remain for drinking.