Friday, September 17, 2010

The Canning Curmudgeon...

In a fit of misplaced domesticity, I decided to do some canning this year.

After years and years of canning, I had given it up -- and gladly. I have never liked it. In my world, it was just something that you always did. My mom canned, as did my mom-in-law. The Farmer and I grew up eating canned beans, canned fruit, applesauce, and I do remember a few jars of nasty looking canned meat, that as far I as I know, never got opened and consumed. I think Grandma had given those to us...

Anyway, canning, back then, was not the excursion into Martha Steward Land that is now is...It was how you kept your family fed. It was cheaper. It was better -- most times, though I can't imagine that there was much nutrition left in those beans we water-bath canned for 3 hours of boiling...We moved into the 21st century when we got a pressure canner -- only 1 hour per batch!!

Being married to a guy who likes to grow things, we always had a garden that was disproportionately sized for the number of people in our family...And being Dutch, we could not waste any of it...Oh, the scourge of productivity! My mantra those years was, " There's nothing like the bounty of harvest to make one very crabby!" I canned and froze vegetables and more vegetables, and then we bought boxes of fruit to can too.

Of course, this was the time of my life where a day of canning meant watching the fruit turn brown in partially filled jars while I mediated arguments, changed diapers, bound up wounds, put "napping" children back in bed, cleaned up messes, and in between peeled pears and peaches. You know, that time of your life when you do 3 hours of work in about 6 hours...

The bane of my harvest existence were the beans. I swear (and I try not to do it very often) that no matter when you plant beans, they are ready to can during the week of the Fair. In later years, when we had become raspberry growers, it never failed that on our first day off in weeks, Randy would poke his head into the kitchen and announce, "The beans are ready to can." He knew just to poke his head in and get out before I threw something at it...After weeks of long pressure-filled days, I did not consider it a blessing to spend our day off picking, snipping and canning beans. Every time I picked them I had to resist the strong urge to pull the entire plant from the ground and end the trouble!

I felt it was my good fortune that as our berry-growing years progressed, our garden-growing diminished, as did the canning...And when the kids were mostly moved out, there just wasn't so much reason to can 60 quarts of beans and 30 quarts of peaches...I didn't miss it -- though, in good Dutch girl fashion, I felt a little bit guilty.

This year,  my bad memories had diminished enough for the process to look attractive again...After all, I wouldn't have to do 30 quarts, and store-bought canned fruit just isn't the same as the memories of home-canned...It would be EASY, and satisfying...

So after some procrastination (first mistake), I decided to buy a box of peaches and a box of pears...

Memories from the past began to re-surface when the box of peaches was ready to can on Sunday, during the football game...And then, because they were late-season peaches, most of them were stringy and unfit for canning. I missed the football game for 4 measly quarts of questionable peaches...Canning emotions came flooding back...The kind of canning emotions that make you want to huck stringy peaches at the barn wall, just to hear the satisfying splat of their demise..

And fruit flies are now our roommates...

And then, the stupid  pears came on -- but of course not all were ready on the same day...Nope, can't get all 11 quarts done on one day...must do 7 one day and 4 the next...

At least they turned out, and look nice in the jars...I'm not even going to show you the peaches...

And so my dislike   hatred of canning has been renewed...And the worst of it? I ordered a box of apples that hasn't arrived yet...

That'll learn me!

4 comments:

Ridgely said...

LOL! Inevitably the peaches from Wally's Dad's place in Yakima were ready to can never before but always, always after I had to go back to work. So work 8 1/2 hours a day then come home and can peaches till midnight....such fun. But Wayne doesn't have peaches anymore, so I don't do it! I did make applesauce...but I froze it! :)

2boys2girls2ofakind said...

I too can, but then I am in my prime of canning: A.K.A. "too many kids at home"...I enjoy it and seeing the "fruits" of my labor lined up on the shelf. WEll done!

Janice said...

I wanted desperately, to pick up peaches on the way home from taking Brandon to college, but Randy took the North Cascades Hwy, and not a peach was to be found. Now, maybe I'm glad I didn't find any. I like you thought it might be "fun" again and really wanted to treat my family with quarts of beautiful peaches! Oh well, maybe next year............

Tami said...

I don't can. My mom in law did it for me when my guys were little. I was the one to give her grandkids and so she canned beans, salsa, tomatoes, peaches, apple sauce, spaghetti sauce etc. for me.
I freeze and am tempted to learn to can and then I read your account and remembered why I don't can. Thank you so much for saving me from myself.

About Me

Needing an outlet for various thoughts rattling in my head, I've created two blogs -- One about my real life (leslieisverbose.blogspot.com) and one where I can vent. (leslievents.blogspot.com)