I'm in the kitchen canning peaches all day today, and I thought I'd share a little tip for all you conscious shopping readers out there.
Last year when I decided to can peaches, I went to the farmers' market and bought a 1/2 bushel for $24 (~$1/lb). As I was waiting for my husband to pull the car around, another woman came up to the peach stand. "Got any seconds?" she asked.
"Sure do," replied the farmer, and pulled out a basket of peaches the same size as mine. "That'll be $12," he said.
My jaw dropped, and I had to investigate....Turns out, "seconds" are the peaches (or tomatoes or apples) that the farmers can't sell at full price because they have blemishes, bruises, look ugly, don't measure up in size, etc. In the case of peaches, it's usually because they're fully ripe, so you've got to eat them that day. Most people go to the farmers' market to buy peaches that they'll eat later in the week - they don't want peaches that are going to start rotting as soon as they get home. So the farmers sell those as "seconds" (or I've also seen them called "ice cream peaches").
Seconds are perfect for making jam or for freezing. They are less perfect for canning peach slices, but at 1/2 price or more they may still be worth it. If you've got seconds on your market list, make sure you arrive at the market early - they can go quickly. And if you're in the Raleigh area, pretend you didn't read this tip. I don't need anymore competition for the seconds! :)
A peck of seconds for $8 - a very good deal, but two weeks ago, I got 1/2 bushel of seconds for the same price.
And now a question for you canners out there. Do you hot pack or cold pack your peaches?