Tuesday, May 1, 2012

I Can, Can You?

With a freezer full of chicken and a day all to myself, I decreed it "a canning day". I love to can. Seeing all those jars lined up on the shelf full of homemade goodness brings a smile to my face and a sigh of contentment from deep inside my homesteader wanna-be heart. I especially like to can things that I have grown myself. It's a full circle kind of thing for me. That little seed or plantlet so vulnerable but full of potential that I sink into the ground in April, months later grown into itself and placed by my hands into gleaming glass jars ready to feed us in the dreary winter months ahead. I tell you, there is nothing like it.

I come by my love of canning naturally. Daddy loved to can and once he retired from farming, he reveled in it.  Momma not so much. Although I do remember her doing it. She canned out of guilt. Daddy also loved to garden and all Summer he would come in the house, those burly arms of his cradling his latest harvest and pile it on the kitchen counter. I remember that after he was out of earshot, Momma would grumble about all the work that meant for her as she couldn't let the stuff go to waste. So she'd sling the pots and pans, drag out the canner and get to it. I guess feeling like you have to do something does take the joy away somewhat. Daddy didn't have to can, and neither do I. I guess that is why I love it so. The man didn't know when to quit when it came to tomatoes. For days he would labor over those sweet/savory red fruits filling jar after jar. I can still see the jars lined up like soldiers on the counter. I can still hear Momma grumbling in the background, "That man is gonna kill himself with all that gardening and canning." Momma was always saying that about anything Daddy did that he enjoyed. Never did figure that one out. Those tomatoes were red gold in the cold season when we would use them in soup, spaghetti sauce, or just eat them from the jar. If Summer had a taste, it would be tomato for sure.

I remember my Aunt Mac liked to can too. So much so that her husband, my Uncle Charlie built her the ultimate homage to home-canning. A canning kitchen. I loved it when visiting in the Ozarks we'd go in there. Everything you could possibly need for canning was in there. There were shelves and shelves lined with canned goods and hanging from the rafters was all manner of herbs that she had grown or wild crafted in the mountains. To this day, I dream of my own canning kitchen. It would look very much like Aunt Mac's.

I have Daddy's old canner, but it is way beyond using. Rusted, parts missing, but I can't throw it away.I think I will put a plant in it and put it on the porch. Using old stuff this way is all the rage now, so I'll  be stylin' with my rusty pot. I also have his funnel, lid magnet, and jar lifter. I am sad to say I have to retire the jar lifter. All the plasticky rubber stuff is cracked and I had 2 jars slip from its grip today. So I'll buy a new one and put his back in the drawer. I love to re-purpose things, so maybe I will come up with a use for it. I know it's a stretch, but you never know.

Postscript: Looks like I am getting a new canner too. Mine bit the dust today resulting in all my hard work having to go into the freezer. It's ok though. I have had my eye on the Cadillac of canners for a year now, but couldn't justify getting it since the one I have worked. It started making a really strange sound and steam was coming from EVERYWHERE but the top. I turned off the burner and left the room. Just in case. While it moaned and groaned its way to demise, I headed to Amazon and got my new baby. Maye I'll put a plant in it too. Matching canner pots. Canna Lilies maybe? Heh Heh.

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