When I was a little girl, my mother canned many foods. Nothing like the amount her mother did, though. We grew up on stories of grandma’s canning prowess. The stories about grandma were legendary. We heard tell of her canning everything from windfall peaches, to green beans from her garden, along with the many other veggies grown there, to chickens. Remember, this was in the time before freezers, so if you wanted to have a continuous supply of food, you would need to can it. And can my grandmother did. I actually have my grandmother’s canner. I believe it is her second one, her having worn clean through her first.
My mother canned apples, applesauce, pears, jam, jelly, tomatoes, tomato sauce, spaghetti sauce, corn relish, and plums. Plums were my favorite.
There is nothing like opening some of Summer’s goodness on a cold Winter morning, the floor cold under little toes as one creeps across the kitchen to take a place at the table. The family is all there in my memory – dad next to the stove, mom across the big pine table from him. My sister next to dad and across from me. Sister making a face at having plums for breakfast with toast.
I loved plums and still do! I couldn’t wait to break into their purple sweetness, but watch out for the pits! I always wished mom could pit the plums before she canned them, but it was never that way. There were always pits.
Sometimes, my sister or I would help to can, but generally we were only the official taste testers, as otherwise we were too much underfoot.
In my house I don’t do much canning anymore. There just isn’t a lot of time for it. When I used to can, it was usually with help from my kids. We canned barbeque sauce, salsa, jam, jelly, applesauce, and grape juice concentrate from our own grapes. You may notice a theme here; we canned either to make future meals simpler, or from the bounty of our land.
There’s something special about putting those jars in the boiling kettle that my grandmother used; something about taking those same jars out to cool and hearing the “pop” of the sealing lid. It is not the only thing that connects the women in my family, but it is good and it is enough.