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When I was a little girl (she says like it was a terribly long time ago), I remember canning fruits and "vegebles" - as my kiddos call them - with my mom and grandmother. It was just a part of my younger life.
We would buy boxes and boxes and boxes of corn from a distribution center (I think) somewhere out of town. We would get green beans either from the garden or somewhere else, and we would spend hours snapping them. We would get boxes of apples as well and I loved making the little piles of apple skin "spaghetti" - even though it took forever to get them all peeled. We had peaches, and would go to a "Pick Your Own" cherry orchard to get the wonderfully red fruit. Then we would spend all day cooking and canning.
I think the biggest memory I have is of my baby brother sitting in the open door of the dishwasher eating a cob of fresh corn. We have a picture of him there, grinning back at the camera with corn milk dribbling down his chin.
I wish now that I had paid better attention back then. We stopped canning sometime in my early teens. I'm not sure why. Maybe it just wasn't worth it when you could just go down to the store for "fresh" (I question the validity of that sometimes) anything now. Or maybe it was because our house was always under construction in some fashion or another, and the work took up too much time. Or something else took up too much time. I don't know. I'll have to ask my Mimi.
Anyways, I think because it was instilled in me in such a young age, this is why I can now and I have no fear of it, really. I read people talking about being scared of canning, and that's just something I grew up with! Granted, I haven't done nearly as much as I've wanted to in the last years. And I haven't wanted to in the last years as much as I do now. The extent of my canning as a young adult and homemaker so far has mostly been jams and jellies, with a batch of my paternal great grandmother's chili sauce thrown in.
For my birthday a few years ago Mimi gave me the best present she has ever given me. And probably the best one she ever will. A gift that was not just a thing, but a memory, and an addition that would be most helpful in the way I want to live my life taking care of my family and being self-sufficient.
She gifted me with a pressure canner and The Ball Book of Home Preserving.
Now, the year she gave it to me I was so busy having little babies, and we were in a small apartment that didn't really allow for a garden. Thus no immense amount of produce to preserve. So I put the book away, and only pulled out the canner a few times to make the aforementioned jams and jellies - and that wonderful sweet chili sauce.
However, this year we've planted our garden and I'm very, very excited to can things this year. I have plans for not only jams and chili sauce, but tomato sauce, relish, hot sauce, maybe some pie filings - whatever I can get my little paws on. I'd like to supplement with the Farmer's market and stock our pantry with so much canned food I have to give it away just so it gets eaten.
I'll be posting a few recipes here and there as I preserve my way through this year's harvest (my own and other's). And I want to encourage everyone reading this to either give canning a shot if you never have before, or pick it back up if it's been forgotten.
Try a new recipe. Can something you've never canned before. Set a goal of preserving one month's worth of food - or more! Or just try a small batch of jelly.
Believe me, it's so worth it. And there's nothing better than running out of something and all you have to do is walk to the pantry and get another jar.