Monday, July 13, 2009

Canning & Friends

I have three very creative friends. We'll call them A, T, and M. No, not the place where you swipe your debit card, enter a random four digit number and twenty dollar bills fly out. ;)

Whenever I am around these friends, for any length of time, I walk away extremely motivated to try something new. With M, it's crafty things, backyard homesteading and cooking. With A, it's photography and quilting. With T, it's being a backyard homesteader and canning.

I spent the day with A & T on Friday at the pool (M came along later and I enjoyed the time with her, too). A, T & M are three of my wonderful fellow feis mom's. In the last month or so, A and I have made big plans to do our first ever home canning session together. We are both completely stoked about it. So, when T told us that her husband (and her) love to can jams and other things, we looked at each other and knew we had found our mentor. We had a great time discussing canning and found out that T also has generous neighbors who offer cherries, apricots, apples and plums. They offered to let us come pick some fruit and we both jumped at the chance. We made plans to meet on Sunday afternoon to pick cherries.

After dropping off Chloe at camp on Sunday afternoon, Rob and I headed on over to T's house for our first pickin'. "A" had to drop out at the last minute so it was just Rob, me, T and her husband, M (and two of their three children). We went to a friends house who had the cherry tree and even though it is late in the season, we were able to get several cups worth of cherries. Most of them were a tad overripe, but I thought we had a good selection. Unfortunately, when we got home and I started pitting them, we found out that they each had a tiny white maggot in them. Yes, it was alive and quite fiesty, too. I hadn't eaten any cherries (Thank the Lord!), but Rob ate a few while picking them (Uggh!). He remembered that T had told us to watch out for the tiny worms, but we had no idea she meant maggots. I found out what they were after I googled "tiny white worm in cherries".

While contemplating what to do with the batch of maggot infested cherries, Casey decided to test whether the maggots we had dug out were, in fact, real by putting one in a container and dumping salt on it. Because, you know...fake maggots wouldn't squirm when salt was poured on them . You knew that, right?

I, sadly, decided to toss the few cups of cherries less my infatuation with canning come to a screeching halt. I feel horrible at just tossing them. I mean, would T have canned them and just gathered the maggots into a container and fed them to her chickens? What exactly did she mean by, "Watch out for the little white worms?" Was it a warning to not eat the cherries if they even had a hint of a "tiny white worm"? That, I do not know.

However, I do know (from reading my Google finds) that the eggs are laid by flies in the miniature fruit by making a tiny hole that is not usually noticable by us. The egg hatches and the larvae feeds on the pulp (future cherry pie filling). Then, as the fruits skin softens upon ripening, the larvae eats a hole in the fruit and falls to the ground where it will lay dormant until the next Spring. It will then emerge as an adult fly to repeat the cycle of reducing perfectly good cherry tree harvest to garbage. Here's another little tidbit. If you see a cherry with a small hole in the skin, it's probably larvae free. The hole made by the egg laying fly is so tiny we don't notice it. The hole made by the larvae is much bigger and usually means that the larvae has already fallen to the ground.

And that, my friends, was our homeschooling lesson for today.

We then went on to another neighbors house to pick Apricots. They weren't home, but T & M said it was okay to still pick them. High in the tree tops M & Rob were picking apricots by the dozens. Rob was standing safely on an OSHA approved ladder and M was perched (barefoot) amid various branches. He reminded me of Tom Sawyer in Huckleberry Finn. In fact, M says that he used to pretend he was Tom Sawyer when he was young. You know, I can totally see that, too! M (while still high in the tree tops) and I (ducking from dropping fruit) reminensed about our days growing up in the Midwest. Fond memories, like; Lightening Bugs, silverfish, walking sticks, cockroaches, locusts, humidity and tall, tall trees. Ahh, the memories it brought back.

After the guys (and kids) had picked two buckets of apricots we headed back home. They followed us over to our house so that we could give them some liquid benedryl for their son. Their adorable son, who slept outside last night without an ounce of mosquito netting and looks as though he will rethink the possible consequences of his actions the next time an opportunity to sleep outside arises. We hope! If he gets sick in the next couple weeks T, you better have him checked for West Nile.

But I digress. I have lots of apricots to make something out of. As of right now, I am going to make several 8 oz jars of apricot jam, apricot leather and dried apricots. I will probably stop at a few thrift stores to see if I can pick up some canning supplies to lessen the initial start-up costs.

Thanks T & M for a great evening! We enjoyed spending time with you both. A, we missed having you there, but hope your foot is feeling better with some much needed rest. Especially after walking all day yesterday at the Scottish games.

Oh, and speaking of friends....

Do you have friends that encourage and motivate you?


  1. Um, ew. I think I want to cut down my cherry trees now!

    Our mutual friend, I'll call her S, is continually motivating me. She and all her new and creative projects. The way she can decide to start something new, researches it in every way, and always succeeds. Fabulous.

  2. Ahh, yes....S. She is amazingly talented and definately creative! She's a go- getter and is another one of my (our) friends who motivates me.