You CAN Can!

Rotel, carrots, pumpkin, tomatoes, beets, tomato soup, pickles, and green beans
Rotel, carrots, pumpkin, tomatoes, beets, tomato soup, pickles, green beans, and more pickles.

I remember canning.

Mama had jars, lids, rings, spoons and pans all over her huge kitchen. She let me hand her the “rings” (screw bands) which I wore like bracelets up and down my then skinny arms. The temperature in there had to be at least 100 degrees, but I do not remember that. I remember her praise when I managed to stay focused on my job and hand her the ring on time. I felt so grown up.

I also remember disappointments, especiallyΒ the cherry jelly that turned out like taffy. MY we loved that. I remember our neighbor, Eula, tanned and in flip-flops, who made her own catsup. And dear old Mrs. Secrest, who always gave me hand-pumped cold drinks from the well inside her dark, quiet house.

For some reason I’ve kept those memories fondly. I’ve tried to resurrect them in my own adult life. I do canning. I make jelly and catsup. We have a well. I want this for my children’s heritage. I wonder why.

It’s not just that the food is better. It’s not only that it is more healthful. And it is not simply that I grew up with it.

It is the soil–the harvest–the glorious, breath-taking heat–the oceans of perspiration replenished by oceans of teas and juices. It’s working together, sharing . . .

Oh! I know what it is! It is the fellowship with those who have gone before and those who are to come, stepping into my place in a long, long line of real people living a real life, marching to the rhythm of summer.

So all my children and I would march down to the garden to harvest God’s blessing for each day.

I hope you will join us. Then together we will all put back something for those special winter days when only that which is straight from the garden will do.

Tomorrow: Six Tricks to Get You out of the Canning Kitchen Faster!

Published by Katharine

Katharine is a writer, speaker, women's counselor, and professional mom. Happily married over 50 years to the same gorgeous guy. She loves cooking amazing homegrown food, celebrating grandbabies, her golden-egg-laying hennies, and watching old movies with popcorn. Her writing appears at Medium, Arkansas Women Bloggers, Contently, The Testimony Train, Taste Arkansas, Only in Arkansas, and in several professional magazines and one anthology.

16 thoughts on “You CAN Can!

  1. My parents grow a lot of fruit and veg – and theoretically I want to – but I haven’t got started yet.
    I joke with my mum that if you leave her unattended she can’t help but make jam.
    I can’t make/preserve anything.

    1. Oh, Sanstorm, I am like your mom about weeding. If I am outdoors, the weeds cringe! πŸ™‚
      Canning is work, but it is work that I approve of, because of the rewards. When I first began, I felt overwhelmed, but then I just relaxed and tried drying a few fruits. That method is easier, and dried peaches are sublime, like candy, really.

  2. I LOVE to can πŸ™‚ My Daddy and most of my uncles and cousins are vegetable farmers in South Florida. In South Florida, farming is done during the winter months, and during my growing-up years, South Florida was the winter vegetable capital of the world. How’s that for a distinction? πŸ™‚ During the growing season every year, Daddy grew a couple thousand acres of pole beans, corn, and other crops. Sounds unbelievable, but farming down there is very different from the well-known family farm. Anyway, all of my aunts canned and froze the crops, and I learned too. My Aunt Janie and I made so many kinds of pickles…. it was so much fun. When my children were little, I would measure out the spices and let them add it all to the pot; those bubbling spices in the vinegar smelled so good. Canning is rewarding; there is always immediate pay-back for the effort expended. It is not an expensive investment and well worth learning. For those who have even a small interest, visit your county agent’s office for free advice and information.

    1. Abigail, thanks so much for these comments! Quite distinctive! πŸ™‚
      I, too, love spiced pickled things, but must curtail eating them, these days, because of the high sugar content. Ah, but the aromas!!
      Your family sounds very industrious and I am sure you are thankful for the upbringing that gifted you with canning knowledge.

  3. Thanks for this post, Kathy. It was my dear husband who got me started on canning. One year about 17 years ago he bought me a pressure canner, 100 jars, and a Ball canning book and said, “There ya go..have fun.” At first I was timid and scared that the canner would “blow up” on me and so I would watch it from a distance. I laugh about that now b/c that has NEVER happened. I do maintain the gaskets, plugs, etc to be safe. He bought me a second canner a few years later b/c just canning seven jars of green beans at a time was not enough. Now we can CAN 14 jars at a time. (qt. jars.) My girls now can and love it and do a better job than I do. I enjoy the garden much more. I love to “tackle” those weeds too. I love my farming life.
    Sorry, I got carried away. This is YOUR blog not mine. πŸ™‚

    1. Blog on, Sister! πŸ™‚ Thanks for all these words. The fact of your inspiration inspires us all. What a great husband! That was an expensive purchase, but DIDN’T IT PAY FOR ITSELF IN NO TIME! Ha. Love it, too. And they only blow up in the memories of the elderly. They are safer, now. You have to try really hard to blow one up, now. πŸ™‚
      But don’t. πŸ™‚

    1. Welcome back, Rufus! Thank you so much for your kind words! Yes, canning is time-consuming on the front end of it. However, when we consider that we KNOW these vegetables are absolutely as safe as we want them to be and are preserved at the apex of their freshness and maturity AND it only takes a moment to pop that top in the dead of winter, we realize how much time we have saved and saved and saved. πŸ™‚ But add to that fact, the fact that while I wait for the pressure cock to jiggle, I have my laptop on the table and am tick, tick, ticking away . . . preparing tomorrow’s post, and you can see that really, time-wise or otherwise, how can anyone afford NOT to can their own?! To grow beyond jams, I recommend stepping up to green beans. They are easiest to grow, harvest, clean, prepare, and–glory!–one of the shortest in time to pressure. πŸ™‚

  4. I remember canning, too. Salsa day was my favorite, as we would get together with my sisters, Mom, my aunt, and my cousins, and we ALL had a job. One year, I’d blanch and peel the tomatoes, another I was the onion chopper. We’d make 3 or 4 different batches, with various levels of heat for all our different families.

    Oo! And canning corn! Each of us kids given the job of shucking and/or using a serrated knife to take the corn off the cobs. Sneaking bites of sweet, raw corn throughout the process.

    Heat, steam, laughing at stupid jokes, and hearing stories about my mom’s childhood. Canning days are always the best days. I am hoping to FINALLY start canning. We haven’t lived in areas where we can get produce cheap enough to make it worth it, but I have finally found a source that might work for us. I miss standing over the hot stove in the heat of summer, making a year’s supply of whatever. It’s like our family’s version of quilting bees. πŸ™‚

    1. Oh, I DO know what you mean, Tiff! I love that heat, steam, etc. And I love the sounds of the jiggler singing about the coming winter’s storms! And the sneaked bits of corn. I remember you said things don’t grow where you live. So sorry. And I also love quilting… Mmm. πŸ™‚

      1. Colorado is crazy-dry, and very difficult to grow anything. I grew up in Oregon, though. And plants grow, no matter what you do there.

        BUT! We do have a thing called Bountiful Baskets – have you heard of it? I *might* be able to afford getting some bulk peaches or tomatoes for a price that would make it worth canning again… Here’s to hope!

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