September 9, 2013 Monday
We have two peach trees in our yard. I planted them myself several years ago when I became frustrated by the peaches you could buy in the stores. There is no comparison between a tree-ripened peach and a peach that has been picked early enough to ship to a grocery store. This year there was a bumper crop of peaches. Way, way too many to use. We gave some away, we invited several friends and neighbors to pick all they wanted, but there were still too many. So… we decided that this was the year we were going to learn how to preserve them. Yesterday we canned peaches. In years past, we have frozen quite a few of them, but freezing isn’t the best.
So much to learn, and so little time! We did two separate batches, attempting to learn from our mistakes from the first batch. John Dewey describes learning as a process that parallels the scientific method: we experience a problem, we invent a possible solution to the problem, we “try out” that potential solution, we experience the results of that trial, we reflect on the experience to see what it tells us, and we adjust our thinking to accommodate to the data from our experience. (This is all a grand paraphrase to condense a lot of Dewey’s writings.) Dewey’s term for this process is “educative experience.” (I try to provide my students with educative experiences in all of my teaching.)
Yogi Berra said the same basic thing somewhat differently: “In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. But in practice, there is.”
Lesson #1: Blanching the peaches doesn’t happen for me the way it happens in the you-tube videos. Discovery: our peaches are too ripe and soft to require blanching.
Lesson #2: Home-grown peaches (at least from our trees) are a lot smaller than normal. Discovery: it takes a lot of peaches to fill a quart jar. Curiosity for further reflection: Why did we decide to do quarts instead of pints???
Lesson #3: Lots of things need to be done simultaneously when canning peaches. Discovery: four hands are better than two. E is much faster and better at peeling and cutting peaches than I am.
I surely hope these peaches turn out to be good for eating. It was a lot of work. We ended up with eleven quarts. There are still a few peaches left for eating fresh.