As the name of my blog indicates, I spend a lot of time thinking about home. Of course, my Heavenly Home is the one that is eternal, so that’s where I need to lay up my treasures, and that’s the one I’m striving for. But in the meantime, I have been given this tiny piece of the here-and-now—this nearly six-acre tract of land, this farmhouse, this domain—in which to serve Him. And, though this is in the earthly realm, I want the things that happen here to be investments in the Heavenly realm.


Monday, July 27, 2015

My Canning Story



Ron and I are a little like The Town Mouse and The Country Mouse. My growing up years were spent in small towns, in neighborhoods. His growing up years were spent in the country, on a farm. When we got married, we had a few --ummmm-- cultural differences. (Ask me about the first chicken killing.) (No, don't.) 

When the first summer of our married life rolled around, Ron planted a garden. A big garden. It was what his family had always done. He seemed happy enough planting and weeding and watching things grow. 

But then. 

He began harvesting. 

And I was surprised shocked overwhelmed at the harvest!

He would come in with bushel baskets full of tomatoes. Green beans. Lima beans. Corn. 

And Town Mouse Girl had no idea what to do with all of the bounty.



Thankfully, Country Mouse Boy was willing to help and teach. I snipped (thousands of) beans and shelled (millions of) limas and shucked (mountains of) corn. He taught me how to can the tomatoes and beans and how to freeze the limas and corn. Actually, we canned together. I was the helper as he led the operation. The pressure canner was (is) scary to me. (And my fears were confirmed when my niece had a canning mishap resulting in a kitchen full of hot green beans, but thankfully, only minor injuries. Yikes!)


I did not learn to love it, neither the gardening nor the canning/freezing process. It was just too overwhelming to me...all of that produce, especially as I spend two summers very pregnant (August babies two years apart) and summers with babies and toddlers and summers with no air conditioning. I would cringe when I saw those heaping baskets at the back door. My memories of the storybook wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana will always be intertwined with snipping mountains of green beans as I watched!

Over the years, Ron scaled back the garden to a more manageable amount. We gradually canned less and less. Eventually, we canned only "specials" like pepper relish, green pepper jelly, and an occasional batch or two of jam. (Remember, Ron is the canner; I am the helper.)



A few years ago, Lorraine (With a Grateful Prayer and a Thankful Heart) shared a recipe for Peach Chutney. I made it and served it to our dinner guests who suggested that I might try preserving it. Hmmm... I could do this in a water bath canner, avoiding Mr. Big Scary Pressure Canner.

I did it!! Without help too!

Oh, the thrill of the ping as the jars sealed!

(Don't laugh at me, experienced canners and farm friends. It was a thrill!)



So now I am hooked. (On small canning projects, that is. I still don't want a bushel basket of green beans to can.) In fact, last summer I asked for the book Food in Jars for my birthday and I was inspired by the tempting recipes and beautiful jars.



My goals for this canning season:
  • Strawberry Vanilla Jam   This recipe is from Food in Jars. It is the best strawberry jam I have ever eaten! (I let Ron help me this time. ~smile~) 
  • Blueberry Butter   Also from Food in Jars. Delicious.
  • Peach Chutney  Last year's batch was gone long ago. I gave several away as hostess gifts. We need some more.
  • Green Pepper Jelly  Green pepper jelly and cream cheese on crackers is a go-to hors d'oeuvres at our house.



So this Town Mouse has finally learned to enjoy canning (on a small scale). Maybe it's not too late to teach an old dog mouse new tricks.

What about you? Do you can/preserve? Do you have a canning story? 

21 comments:

  1. Good for you!! There's nothing like that ping. Not hearing it is quite depressing after all that work. I bet Diana never had to can mountains of green beans. You've come a long way, city girl. Lol

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  2. When I was growing, I helped my mother can bushels of tomatoes (well, I peeled--she canned), we shelled peas and she canned lots of jars of food. Like you, I never learned to can growing up and was afraid of the pressure cooker--still am. If I can put things in the freezer, I am OK with that with I don't "can". It works for me. I do admire your learning to the do the pretty things, chutney, etc. Canned things do look so pretty in jars. Thanks for sharing your experience. Blessings, Sharon D.

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  3. Cheryl, I loved the way you wrote your canning story. I too was a Town Mouse and Grayden a somewhat County/Country Mouse. His mother had a huge garden and did all the canning etc. I was intrigued for a while about all of it, but soon realized it was a ton of work! Your downsized version of canning sounds wonderful with all the special jams, jellies and butters you make. What wonderful gifts in the winter to your family and friends. ♥

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  4. It must be something about the smell of brine or the sticky humidity of the kitchen in the midst of canning operations. I hate canning. Hate may not be a strong enough word. I do love to see those gem colored jars all lined up on a shelf. Yes, that's the best part, even better than the eating, which can be pretty fine, too. I have one canning story. If I ever find it, I'll send a link.

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  5. I've canned for quite a few years now, and I still love to hear the ping!
    I mostly do jams and chutneys and relish - not so crazy about canned veggies. I enjoy it most when I can just do one batch a day. That doesn't seem as overwhelming as doing it all day long. An hour and a half a day soon fills the storage cupboard. I'll have to look up that cookbook. We have a LOT of
    blueberry bushes and that blueberry butter sounds like something my family would enjoy.
    Blessings.
    Marie

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  6. That small batch canning book is the same one I have. I've scaled back on canning, too. With just the two of us we don't need as much. But I make all our jams and jellies and pickles. They are great to tuck into a gift basket, or take along as a hostess gift. I learned to can from my mother, who at almost 79, still cans.

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  7. I think I've canned once. It's always been a big black hole of mystery and fright. I preferred freezing our garden produce when I could. I like how you've found your sweet spot with canning and I'm sure there will be many that will reap "hmmmm" from your efforts!

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  8. I grew up watching my Mother and Grandmother can and put fresh vegetables in the freezer! As a young wife, I loved being an "ole fashion" house wife, canning, freezing and baking! There is nothing like that ping! I still put peas in the freezer, can pear relish and Strawberry preserves and fig preserves!

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  9. I was the city mouse too. Our first year married we decided to plant a garden which included tomato plants. We had all kinds of veggies but the problem was the tomatoes. We had started with four plants but was sure that wouldn't be enough for the two of us. I convinced my country mouse to plant 12 more for a total of 16 tomato plants.He kept telling me I didn't need that many, but I wasn't convinced. I don't have to tell you what happened come July. I was up to my eyeball in tomatoes, and my husband went on deployment. It was me and oodles an oodles of tomatoes. I didn't have enough neighbors or friends to give them to, so this city mouse bought a book and learned how to can. When my country mouse husband came home from deployment that December he was greeted by a pantry of full of canned tomatoes. We still can on occasion but on a much smaller scale, I mostly freeze things now.

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  10. Yikes, I do not can even though my mother was such a good preserver of fruits like apricots, cherries, etc.
    My new daughter in law does a good job canning and I'm happy to supply her with jars! One of my sisters took on my mother's skills in this area. Your little cans of goodness look real good!

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  11. I learned to can in my missionary training. Since then I have done jam and peaches basically. I love the idea of little batches of items, and that makes it doable and not overwhelming.

    Deanna

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  12. I actually love to can, but I remember Tim's first garden...oh, the tomatoes! I also had the silly notion to can dozens of pound ps of peaches a weak after having a baby two years ago...we just finished the last of the jars of peach butter 😉

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  13. I love the sound of that 'ping' as the lids seal! One summer day (years ago) I gathered some friends and we were at the Farmers Market when they opened! THAT is EARLY!!! We even had breakfast first at a hole in the wall diner BEFORE the market opened! Yes, we got up about 3 am that summer morning! We canned ALL DAY LONG and canned just about everything you can imagine! Green beans, spiced peaches, tomato preserves, tomato sauce, pickles - all varieties - it was a killer of a day! I still can occasionally - but not for 24 hours straight!

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  14. I have tried once or twice, so much work, a little gratification for me. A couple of summers ago I went to a friend's house and we made roasted red peppers (a bushel full) and an Italian eggplant appetizer called caponata. Delicous on toasted baguette slices. Worked all day and was exhausted. But I must admit I am always nervous eating homemade items. I keep them in the fridge just to be safe.

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  15. When we were first married we lived next door to a gal who could do EVERYTHING well and I worked a few times as her assistant with her canning. I found the whole process fascinating, but scary at the same time, and WAY WAY too much HOT work, lol. Maybe it was because it was hot, we had NO air at the time, and I too was pregnant with toddlers underfoot. I've never wanted to do it again, lol. But I am TOTALLY impressed with women who do. And let's face it, EATING it is always a pleasure! lol Have a good week!

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  16. What a timely post. I just finished doing a bushel of beans. :) I'm not sure where my canning story begins because growing up in a family of ten, it was simply what we did. and large quantities too! When I married I kept the tradition up, and eventually learned we don't need quite as much!!! Recently I disposed of a few jars that were canned the first summer I was a mommy...22 years ago!! :)) Preserving to another degree..ha..

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  17. I do not like canning with a pressure cooker. I tend to freeze as much as I can. But I do like to can in small batches. Food in Jars looks quite interesting...something to ask for my birthday :0)

    Thank you so much for sharing...

    mari

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  18. OH! Cheryl, if you can see me smiling, I so enjoyed reading this, After all my years of canning, I dearly love to heart that "ping" sound!, and if I don't hear it soon after I take them out, I really get worried! I am going to look for this canning book, as the blueberry butter, and peach chutney sounds wonderful! Hope you are having a great week,
    Blessings,
    Sue

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  19. I used to can when we lived at our other home in the country and had a huge garden. I'll have to say that I'm not at all fond of it and was always afraid of pressure canning so I canned my green beans the old-fashioned way using the old blue enamel water bath canner. None of us ever got sick on the green beans, making sure I boiled them for 5 minutes. Not sure how many nutrients were left after all that cooking, however! lol!

    I froze corn and many other things. That I don't mind doing. Except the one time I had so much corn to put up that I stood on my bare feet in the kitchen until 3 am and ended up with a blood clot in my foot! And I've blogged about my first canning experience. I had put all the green beans in jars on some shelves in the laundry room and after a time heard a loud crash. The shelves had come crashing down and every last one of the jars of beans was broken. Probably around 21 jars. I was devastated, to say the least. But I kept on canning until we moved to this house and we've never had a really good garden that produced enough to can. Can't say I've missed it all that much! lol! I still freeze a few things such as cubed zucchini to put in vegetable soup if I have enough. Not this year, the rains prevented us from even planting much except in the raised bed we where we have just a few tomato plants.

    Have a nice week!
    Cheryl












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  20. I am so with you! Love that "ping!"

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  21. As a child I watched and helped my great-grandmother can bushels of tomatoes and peaches. She also made peach jelly with the wax poured on top to seal it. it was a lot of work and I've never been interested in doing it for myself. I am a true city girl who will go to the corner store and pick up a can of veggies or fruit. But I admire those who do can because I know just how much work it is. I will blanch and freeze veggies, though. That's about as far as my "preserving" goes.

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