Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The last of the summer harvest

It always makes me sad to see the last of the summer harvest gone.  North and South Carolina's climate is wonderful for extending the life of some of the fruits and vegetables we grow, but all good things must come to an end.

I've been busy making fig preserves for the past couple of weeks - thanks to my brother-in-law that has been providing the figs from his prolific fig bush. The prep for the preserves is easy, but the actual cooking takes quite a while, so you have to allow yourself a good 2 1/2 - 3 hours for a batch from beginning to end.  Fig preserves have always been my favorite jelly / jam.  They're very sweet and oh, so good on buttered toast or biscuits.  My recipe calls for every two cups of fruit, you use one cup of sugar.  Trim the caps off the figs and slice them in half.  Put them in a large cooking pot (the heavier, the better).  My last batch was sixteen cups of figs and eight cups of sugar.  Add the sugar to the figs, stir, and let sit for a few minutes.  The sugar will liquify so you really don't need to add water.  Bring to a boil, lower heat and boil at a gentle boil for two hours, stirring occasionally, but the last thirty minutes stir more often.  They get very thick!  Put them in your prepared jars, put lids and caps on and you have a finished product that looks like the picture below.  The 16 cups of fruit makes about 7 pints of preserves.

Prepare to gain a couple of pounds with each jar!

We've also prepared freezer jam with strawberries and peaches this year, but I've used Splenda instead of sugar with those recipes.  We've enjoyed fresh peaches from the orchard at McBee, South Carolina since the first week of July, and we continue to enjoy them each week as we travel back and forth to the coast. 
A bowl filled with peaches, apples and bananas.  Everything pictured came from the Carolinas except the bananas.
The picture above shows apples from the North Carolina mountains, peaches from South Carolina and a butternut squash locally grown.  The picture below shows the last of the South Carolina watermelons and the last of the box of peaches my hubby picked up on Sunday.

For some reason, the fruit tastes better nearer the end of summer.  I guess it's because we know that it's nearing the end of it's growing season.  September brings with it the Scuppernongs and the Muscadine grapes.  I remember picking the wild muscadines as a child.  The vines grew up into the trees and were hard to reach, but the taste of these fresh, sweet grapes made it worth while.  The tame kind grown locally are much bigger and even sweeter.  You can also pick them up at local farmer's markets.

Scuppernongs on the left, Muscadines on the right

  September also brings locally grown peanuts and sweet potatoes.  Each fruit and vegetable has it's season to shine.  I suppose they wouldn't be quite so special if we could get them any time of the year.  It's almost to the point that we can.  When I was a child, we only had oranges in the winter from Florida and strawberries, peaches, melons, etc in the summer.  Now you see them in grocery stores all times of the year.  Somehow they seemed even better back then.


  1. Oh my, what a great harvest and lovely pictures. Great post!

  2. My goodness me, look at all that abundance of wonderful produce. I wish I lived in Carolina. I'm sure that fig preserve is really scrummy. Enjoy!

  3. Hi! Dear Glenda,
    How wonderful to make home-made preservatives!!!
    And you stunned me with the large amount of them♬♬♬
    Haha, I didn't know the word "Splenda"
    Look really healthy, delicious, scrumptious♡♡♡
    Love and lots of Hugs to you, Orchid*


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