Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Fear of Canning

Yes, I've been missing in action yet again.  It seems the summer just drags on and even though this is technically the last day of it, we're still in the nineties.  There's been no rain for us in six weeks, but we drag the hose dutifully to the beds and water thoroughly so we get the lovely butter beans, green beans and squash even this late.  The collards are planted and promise to do well if the guineas don't kill them first. 

This morning we picked butter beans and greenbeans and they will be delicious on our plates for supper.  Mac planted six more tomato plants on August 24th in the growtainers and we have tomatoes on them already.  Do you think he'll mind if I say I am heartily sick of canning tomatoes? 
They've gotten so tall that he's having to extend the rings to accommodate their rapid growth. 
Thursday  is the first day of fall.  This Sunday past I came home from church and started canning the peaches (a bushel of them) and finished the pears.  I know that this winter we will be so happy that the pantry if loaded with all the bounty from the garden but I will tell you this: I have yet to use the pressure canner this year. 

Our family grew up with Aunt's and Great Aunt's as well as Grandparents lending a hand in the rearing of myriad children in the family circle.  They had their own methods of correction and reward, instruction and playtime.  One of the Aunt's spent most of the summer canning garden goods, chicken and dumplings, meats and the like.  Her favorite was Spaghetti Sauce.  For most of the garden goods she used the cold pack canner but for anything containing meats or fish she used the pressure canner.  As young as 5 I knew that the sudden screech and the soft explosion meant Aunt Dale was canning Spaghetti Sauce.  And that the pressure gauge had passed into the red line.  The boy cousins would spend half a day cleaning the ceiling at least three times each summer,  Then, one summer Aunt Dale had an idea.  She would pay one of us a nickel if we sat in a chair in front of the range and kept an eye on the pressure gauge.  We were to yell out if it began to rise from the amount of pressure the canner book indicated.  She would run in and turn down the burner the canner was on.  We dared not leave it a second to long, and if we did we ran out the kitchen door onto the screen porch screaming for help as we ran.  We really wanted that nickel, so we were mostly eagle eyed.  Aunt Dale had to many other things going on to watch it herself which is why she had so many catastrophes in the kitchen. 
When I became the proud owner of my very own pressure canner, it was in my possession for 2years before I got up the nerve to use it.  I had read the instruction booklet at least fifty times.  Maybe more.  I would tell myself that the next day would be canning day and then chicken out and use the cold pack canner instead.  But one day, the first day of my vacation, I took the plunge.  I got out the canner, the jars, the book and decided that I would can the bushel of pears that I had been gifted with by a neighbor.  I peeled, I  seeded, I added citric acid to avoid browning, then I prepared the jars.  They had to be hot, so I also had the cold pack canner out to heat them and placed the jar caps and lids in a small pan of boiling water.  I located the jar lifter and set to work.  I used apple juice as the canning solution in the jars to avoid sugar.  I packed the hot jars in the canner, added the water, adjusted the lids and put the top on the canner.  7 jars rested snugly within.  After placing the pressure gauge atop the canner,   I turned on the burner and put my chair in front of the range so I could take up my post. I had offered the requisite nickel to my sons to do this, but had no takers.  They simply laughed and walked away.  Mac came in and seeing me sitting in the chair asked me what on earth I was doing.  "Avoiding disaster, " I replied,  "Our ceiling isn't as high as Aunt Dale's was, I'm afraid the whole affair would go through the roof!"  So, if you should ever walk into the kitchen and see me sitting in a chair in front of the stove, you'll know what I'm doing.  And believe me when I tell you that this winter it will have been worth every worrisome moment of it.  And I'll pay myself a nickel for the privilege.
    

18 comments:

jabblog said...

All your hard work will be so much appreciated in the winter months. There's nothing better than home-grown, home-made food :-)

Cynthia Pittmann said...

What a delightful memory, Sandi! I think if my pressure cooker 'shot through the roof' it would mean I got angry. ha!
I haven't canned since I was a teen living on our 10 acre farm. We canned tomatoes, carrots, corn...but actually my mom converted to the freezing method of nearly everything. That's what I thought of when I saw the basket of snap peas...at least they looked like that to me. Are they lima beans?

Sally said...

I'll be back when time allows - my computer usage is limited where I am right now. NO, I'M NOT IN THE NUT HOUSE!!!!

Anyway, it was just so GREAT to see you here again. (((hugs)))

Sandy said...

I love butter beans. Yum! Reading about the pressure cooker made me think way back to when I was a little kid and my Mom made turnip greens in the pressure cooker. I'll never forget when the cooker "blew" and there were turnip greens everywhere! I love the song "Summer in the City" by the Lovin' Spoonful! Such GREAT music!! I've missed your emails but figure you have been one busy lady! Now you're playist is playing "Explorers". I've never heard that but really like it! Even though I don't like winter, I will wish for it's speedy entry so that you can get some rest! ♥

Love Bears All Things said...

We all remember the horror stories with the old canners but the modern ones are not that way...the jiggler is what one goes by...I tried to talk a friend of mine into buying one this year..she isn't keen but she needs it because it makes work so much quicker.
I enjoyed reading your story, though.
It is finally raining her today and the promise of lower temps is in the forecast...we have our street festival next Saturday and I don't relish standing in the booth in 90 degree weather so I'm hoping it does get cooler.
Happy days,
Mama Bear

Jeni said...

When I was growing up, canning fruits and vegetables was a very big part of life in this old house every summer and fall. My Grandpa always had a big vegetable garden so Mom and Grandma were busy, busy putting up veggies, making tomato sauce and juice. They would go scavenging down in the ghost town about a mile away to pick apples from the trees there as well as buying bushels of pears, peaches and more apples from a guy who would come around door-to-door, peddling those fruits so come winter, we always had lots of fruits to grace the table along with all those wonderful vegetables too. I tried canning one time -and one time only. My adventure with that technique came to a halt after the canner (and the contents) sort of exploded and almost sent my ex-husband into cardiac arrest as the noise awakened him from his snooze on the sofa! (In the middle of the Democratic Convention of 1976 so that tells you how long it's been since I tried -and failed miserably too -canning!

Mary said...

Sandi
Lucky you with summer still with you Its going dowm to 4 degrees here tonight! Its cold I have loads of ripe toms waiting for me to make into sauce for the freezer which I plan to do tomorrow Hope you are all well Mary

Maggie May said...

Well done!
You put me to shame though!
I remember my mother doing all these preserves but never using a pressure cooker.
Maggie X

Nuts in May

Lee said...

LOL That's a heck of a story Sandi! When I took home economics in college they taught us how to freeze but not how to can. (shrug) Maybe by that time it wasn't the same course that my Mom took. I'm glad you have a nice efficient way of preserving the fruits of your and Mac's labors in the garden. Please save me a jar of canned peaches. :-)

love,
Lee

Lib said...

I am afraid of a pressure canner. lol
You will eat well this winter:o)
HAve agreat wk.
Blessins',Lib

Pondside said...

You're brave! I'm terrified of the pressure cooker that my friend and I use every fall to can our antipasto. Every year it 's the same thing - we haul it out as though it's a creature from another planet. We study the instructions as though we've never used the contraption, and then we fret the whole time we're using it. It's exhausting!

Kathy's Klothesline said...

I remember the old pressure cooker my grandmother had. She would place a spoon just so to let the pressure off slowly and to my knowledge never had an accident. My mother, who was known for her impatience, was finally denied the use of one!

Denise said...

I have a big old pressure cooker in my kitchen way back in the back of the cabinet... it was my mothers.... I am going to keep it even though I have gone raw in my diet....BUT I can eat legumes......so butter beans sound wonderful......

I planted a garden this year in early April and never went back out there.... Dad began to get very ill in April and then died in July and then Mom began to fail and died in September..... I crashed so maybe a garden next year..

I love reading your blog and I am going to get back to my blogging... Too many good friends here.....

Carol@ Writers Porch/ Book House said...

Hey Sandi, I use the cold pack waterbath canner too! I don't trust "my memory" enough to use the pressure canner of my youth.
I don't have anyone to clean up the explosive results if I "forget"
it's on the stove! HA! Hey, I told hubby if he brought one more basket of tomatoes in,he was gonna wear em! However, a few weeks have past and we bought a basket of home grown tomatoes in the Smokies last week and they are soooo good! :) XOXO

Strawberry Jam Anne said...

You are doing well Sandi - how marvellous to have all your wonderful fruit and veggies to last through the winter. I would be too scared to use a pressure cooker, so bravo! A x

denise said...

too funny. we weren't even allowed in the house while the "canner" was going! do you can your green beans in a cold pack? i swear i believe i used to but this is the first year i've canned anything in about 20 years and everything says you have to use a pressure canner for them.
anyway, good story as usual.

Carver said...

It's so great to have vegetables in the winter put up in the summer. Your stories are always so much fun to read.

Anna said...

Sandi, lol. Well it is not the same, but I have pressure cooker that I got when I got married 12 years ago, and have not touched it since then - fear I guess, lol. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Anna :)