“Putting By”

Some of you may remember that August mandates that I bake Charlie’s favorite pie–peach and blueberry. This season the two fruits didn’t ripen at the same time, so the blueberries were already in the freezer by the time the peaches were ready. I need “squishy” peaches for the pie, known by their other name “seconds.” These fruit are extra ripe, full of juice, but often fairly unsightly and passed over at the market. Fortunately when we went to pick up our week’s produce, they had a peck of seconds for sale at a very reasonable price.

How I instantly knew it was a peck I have no clue. I hadn’t really thought much about pecks since grade school when we had to memorize how many pecks there were in a bushel(four.) But sure enough, this eight quart box (how many quarts in a peck?) held one peck. Way more peaches than needed for the pie meant I had to quickly(before fruit flies arrived) process the rest. Above you can see the procedure laid out from right to left. First the boiling water, then the ice bath, then the peeling, then the slicing, then the sprinkling with lemon juice to keep them from darkening. I froze the slices.

It had been many years since I had processed fruit like this, but the routine seemed to be in my muscle memory. I might have been 25 again, canning all sorts of vegetables and fruits shared by our rural neighbors, guaranteeing my little family would eat well in the winter.

Reminiscing done, I defrosted some blueberries and made Charlie his summer pie.

41 thoughts on ““Putting By”

  1. hope Charlie loved your efforts, given the August we are in now…and yes I remember pecks and bushels but have never used that measurement at all. There was another one to do with logs in a pile but I forget what!


  2. I do a lot of canning and preserving for my family. And there is something beyond the muscle memory as I do it as well–a connection to my mother and grandmothers and their grandmothers–that pervades my sense of self as I prepare the fruits and veggies and submerge the full jars into boiling water.


  3. Oh Yes! Putting by. My whole childhood was ruled by that mantra.

    I had a mother who had endured two world wars and the depression, She knew the value of putting by.

    She knew the value of foraging for blackberries, hazelnuts, mushrooms, and basically anything that was there for free. She was eating dandelions and nettles way before they became popular. (Good lessons learned- in retrospect!)


  4. You remind me that I should be baking something too. I made some blackberry cobbler earlier this summer, but I have an apple tree that produced this year so maybe I’ll make some apple pie, my husband’s favorite!


  5. Yum! I found myself singing, “I love you a bushel and a peck” as I read your post. Great memories, Elizabeth. I miss good peaches. I hope the pie was delicious.


  6. I had to learn about bushels and pecks at school, even though nothing was any longer sold in those weights. Also fathoms, furlongs, chains, gills, and flagons.
    Best wishes, Pete.


  7. It has been several years but for a while I was really into making jams, canning, pickling, and fermenting of all sorts of things. This reminds me I should do it again. There’s nothing like opening a jar on a cold February morning that you canned back in August. A little taste of summer past.


      1. I never did cucumbers but did do dilly beans with Thai chillies which were so delicious and really easy. Basically pour boiling vinegar/spices over the blanched beans in jars and close them up. I can’t remember if I sterilized them after – I don’t think I did as they were bound to be eaten too quickly to worry about that.

        I did a ton of lactobacillus fermentation/pickling before – sauerkraut, kimchi, and brine pickling of nearly anything I could get my hands on. Easy and delicious. Jars can be sterilized in the oven or dishwasher, and then really the hardest part (which isn’t that hard) is chopping veggies.


        1. A little of both. I took a workshop where I learned to make sauerkraut then ran with it from there. Learned to make jam from a book, kimchi from a website, and other pickles from principles learned from the sauerkraut workshop.

          Hey – if you want I could do a Zoom workshop (or other online venue) on how to make one of those… I’m due to do some of that again.


  8. I’ve just looked back at your earlier post about this pie, what a lovely story! Those preserved peaches will be much appreciated in the winter months and the pie will be delicious right now!


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