As fall has moved in to our beautiful valley in full swing, with the leaves beginning to turn color from vibrant green to a lustrous coat of many colors, it is time to get my canning pots fired up and the empty jars for of the year’s harvest. I have to admit, I take great satisfaction in canning the fruits and vegetables of my garden to preserve them for yumminess for the months ahead. It is immensely comforting to me to walk into my garage during the winter and see shelves filled with jars that I labored over in the fall, knowing that in minutes I can prepare a meal, realizing that I produced and proceeded everything on the table. I am confident in its flavor. I know what all of the ingredients are. Talk about comfort food!
Today we canned tomatoes and grape juice from the bounty grown in our yard. We succeeded in creating 14 quarts of grape juice and 36 quarts of tomatoes.
Although I worked this morning building a set, I was able to preserve my soul by listening to General Conference and preserve some food in pretty little jars. It was even satisfying to be sitting under the canopy on the back deck canning away while the rain pounded on the canvas above my head.
With those brightly colored jars of peaches, tomatoes, jams, green beans, chicken and tuna, all lining the shelves in my garage comes a flood of memories.
Some to those memories are around beginning a new school year… getting off the school bus and walking the dusty trail home… walking into the kitchen full of boxes, steam, heat from the wood stove (yes I was a kid in the 70’s and 80’s and my mom canned on an old fashion kitchen wood stove), glistening clean bottles (that my sister washed in the bathtub wearing her swim suit), and work to be done. I’d be assigned to skin and dice fruits and vegetable and to fill the jars. My mom did all the things involving heat.
Canning season at my house was a family adventure… everyone was expected to participate. My brothers chopped wood and kept the fires burning… my little sisters moved stuff around, took out the trash and washed jars in the bathtub… I sliced and diced.
My mom canned A LOT! She was the queen of canning. I don’t even know where she learned how to can. I don’t think her mom was too keen on canning. But my mom canned. She was good at it… fast and efficient. She was even featured in the local newspaper for her canning expertise. (I tried to find a copy of the article but I failed). We couldn’t grow a successful garden in the unpredictable climate of central Oregon, so my mom saved money all year long to buy tomatoes, peaches, pears, apples, green beans, corn, etc from “the fruit man” every fall.
With seven kids to feed, my mom needed to save money. Canning saved money, but the truth is, food always seems to taste better home canned than the canned goods purchased at the store. We were pretty self-sufficient.
I have a great desire to be self-sufficient. I am not completely self-sufficient… I’m still working on the garden thing, but I get closer to being more self-sufficient every year…. or at least I’d like to think so.
For now, I take great satisfaction in canning and storing the bounty of fall for myself.