Walking on the Beaches, Looking at the Peaches

I can’t say it often enough – I HATE SUMMER. I would honestly rather deal with 3 feet of snow and bitter wind chill than the heat and humidity we’ve gone through in the past few months. I’ve got my days arranged for the minimum amount of outside time absolutely necessary. Some days I only go outside to walk the dogs and then we don’t even go around the block, it’s so hot. I grew up in Nova Scotia where it was seldom humid and where, when the temperature hit 25C, we’d head for the beach and the frigid chill of the ocean. My body just never acclimatized to living in pea soup.

The only good thing that comes from an Ontario summer is the food. And it’s truly the only thing that keeps me from fleeing to Halifax for July and August. Because if I left, I would miss out on Ontario corn, melons, tomatoes and peaches. (Not blueberries, though… Nova Scotian blueberries far exceed those we get in Ontario.)

Peaches in particular are a point of contention. A couple of years ago, Ontario’s last canning facility shut down. Canned fruit in the supermarkets is 100% guarantee to be from away – usually from places like China or South Africa. Many Ontario farmers who grew peaches and pears in particular razed their orchards because without the cannery, there was no one in Ontario to buy their fruit in quantity.

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Where Can I Find – Local Preserves

I got an email from some friends recently looking for locally-made jam. They were specifically looking for wee little jars to give out as favours at their upcoming wedding, but as I thought and thought and thought about it, I was having a hard time coming up with anything more than Greaves in Niagara-on-the-Lake, which is where they got the idea for wee little jars in the first place.

When most of us think of jam we either head for our favourite supermarket brands or else to the pantry for a jar of homemade. After all, nothing compares to Grandma’s. But the area in between is a grey one. Jams, jellies and preserves that don’t fit into the homemade or supermarket versions often get lumped in with luxury consumables; the kind of thing you’d enjoy if someone gave you a gift basket of the stuff, but not something that you’d necessarily seek out for yourself.

Which is a shame, especially when we’re talking about products made from local fruit, since the abundance of berries and stone fruit available in Southern Ontario each summer is some of the best in the world.

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