F is for Flowers Freezing #AtoZChallenge

Cherry Blossoms covered in snow
Snowy cherry blossoms

We had a warm streak in early March that lasted long enough to trick the early flowering trees into blossoming. Too soon, little flowers, too soon. The snow stuck around for a day or two, followed soon by another storm with much colder temperatures and more snow.

Finally, a month after this photo was taken, the time was right for the trees to begin opening.

It seems that weather patterns have been disrupted lately. Winters are not predictable as they once were, turning into a mixture of a heat wave one week and an arctic blast the next.

Plum tree blossoms with snow on branches
Snowy plum tree blossoms

These trees that I photographed are decorative—planted in my neighborhood to look pretty and not to provide food. But these same erratic weather patterns are affecting and will continue to affect our fruit trees, other crops, and food supply. For example, fruit and nut trees need a certain amount of cold weather, or “chill hours,” in winter in order to produce fruit during the growing season. Peach farmers in Georgia are expecting an even worse year than last year’s crop yield, in part due to record low amounts of chilling hours.

Let’s hope we can stop climate change before we run out of food.

 

P is for Preserving Food

Two summers ago I tried canning for the first time and loved it. Last year I did even more food-preservation projects.

Cherries were first. I canned some sweet and some sour, and I also made jam for the first time. It was a lot easier than I thought it would be. I’m still getting over how much sugar goes into jam. It’s hard to dump 6-7 cups of sugar into a pot of something I’m making.

Canned cherries and cherry jam

Later, I made blackberry jam. It was such a nice day picking these blackberries that I used some photos for my entry in the photo challenge called Good Day.

Homemade Blackberry jam

I also canned peaches. At the time, I felt like I had packed the jars full of peach halves, but after canning they kind of shrunk and floated, making it look like I could have fit more in.

Jars of home canned peaches

Throughout the summer, I was canning tomato sauce. Each week I would bring home tomatoes from the farmers market and make sauce.

Quarts of home canned tomato

Sometimes you can find tomato “seconds,” which are fruits that aren’t in perfect shape, but are still definitely edible. There may be bruises that you have to cut off, splits, or minor things like that. These are sold at a discount, or sometimes given away for free. They still make excellent sauce, so they’re good enough for me.

Chopped heirloom tomatoes in pot for tomato

In all, I think the things that I canned were: cherries, cherry jam, tomato sauce, pickled beets, spicy peppers, applesauce, picked roasted bell peppers, peaches, blackberry jam.

Canned spicy peppers

It got so hectic that I wasn’t keeping up with writing down or taking pictures of the stuff I canned, it was hard enough just to get it done and still have my tiny kitchen cleaned and ready to cook the next meal. But I really loved it. The chaos and mess were totally worth it.

I love the idea of preserving good products at the peak of freshness to enjoy later. It’s nice to have control over the process of what goes in it. I’m looking forward to doing more this summer as things come into season.

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I’m participating in the A to Z Challenge for the month of April. The idea is to post every day, except Sundays, and end up with one post for each letter of the alphabet. It’s a good challenge to help me to blog every day.

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