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“When the LORD your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you—a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the LORD…”  Deuteronomy 6:10 – 12

I’ve been BUSY cleaning, peeling, and now preserving fruit!  Right now the fruit trees are bursting with fresh fruit and now’s the time to pick and preserve so that you’ll have lots of fruit during the winter!

We are planning on planting our own blueberry bushes and a few fruit trees this fall, but in the meantime, lucky for me, we have lots of friends that have fruit trees and don’t have any plans for the fruit!  You’d be surprised at how many people have fruit trees on their properties and don’t know how to use or preserve the fruit.   Our “connections” happen to be elderly or disabled people who have fruit trees and don’t have the ability to scan or preserve their own fruit anymore.  So, in exchange for some of the finished product, they were happy to give us all the fruit for free!  Plus, we’ll be helping someone in the process – a win/win!

With a little work on our end we’ll have tons of fruit, applesauce, juice, jelly, preserves, etc for the rest of the year – FOR FREE!  It will be a big money saver and it will be delicious to enjoy when fresh fruit isn’t as readily available and prices go up during the winter.  If you have access (or can barter some access) to some fruit you should look into preserving and canning this year too!  Even though it isn’t “technically” organic (it isn’t certified) it hasn’t been treated with any pesticides or fungicides – so that makes it just as good in my book; plus it is totally local!

Here’s the loot I was able to pick with the help of my mom, dad, and oh yeah – Judah helped too! =)

We picked two big laundry baskets full of apples, a huge bucket of pears, a big basket of muscadines, and about 2 lbs of figs.  So far, we’ve washed all the fruit – it took two evenings just to get everything washed!  Then, we split it up.  I baked a fig tart for dessert for mom and dad and my family to go with dinner this evening with about half of the figs.  It was delicious!  I’ll be sure to share the recipe on here this week (and you can use other types of fruit for this recipe too!).

We also had some pear juice, apple juice, and a big sack of frozen blackberries from our past harvest!  So, this weekend we also made three types of jelly: blackberry, apple, and pear.  We used recycled glass jars and used paraffin to seal the jars.  I found some cute labels for the jars on Merriment Designs that you can print on sticker printer paper for free! You can also find more cute canning labels on A Sonoma Garden and Martha Stewarts’ site.

We also picked up a bushel of peaches at the Whole Foods store on Friday.  They had local peaches on sale – one day only – for $0.49 per pound.  So, I’ve spent this evening peeling (and peeling) peaches and chopping them into pieces.  I dropped the chunks into quart sized freezer bags and popped them in the freezer.  I’ll be using these delicious morsels for peach cobblers, smoothies, and ice cream… yum!

We got lots of plans for this week’s harvest too!  Stay tuned for more updates, recipes, and how to’s for canning and preserving.  I’ll be making apple sauce, apple juice/cider, whole and half pears in syrup, pear sauce (like apple sauce), and apple chunks for pies and baked goods.