Friday, October 4, 2013

Canning - Yea or Nay?

The farm papers we get every week all have a page of recipes and the cook's stories. Invariably they will say they grew up cooking, standing on a chair with their mother's apron tied around their neck. By the age of 8 they could cook a full meal, including pie for a threshing crew while their mother was helping in the field.

That's not me!

I stayed as far away from the kitchen as I could, growing up, I wanted to be outside. If a threshing crew had come to our house, they would have had to bring a sack lunch. And it would really have been strange for a threshing crew to come since my Dad was not a farmer. I could make a mean PB & J sandwich but that was the extent of my food preparation.

Our mother was a great cook, meat and potatoes, grew a huge garden and canned all summer long to feed us through the rest of the year. Mom told Rosanne once that it was very satisfying to go to the cellar and see all that food put away. I know I didn't appreciate it near enough.

I read that canning is making a resurgence as people want to 'get close to their food.' I want to get close enough to eat it and, until last year, had never canned in my life. As my friend, Laura, put it, "There are people out there that do this for a living, who are we to deprive them of a job?"

But there does seem to be a first time for everything, I was in the store last summer and they had boxes of lovely looking pears. We both love pears so I bought a box, it soon became evident that we couldn't eat them fast enough and I had to do something if I didn't want them to become chicken treats.

Enter Mr. Google, can you freeze pears? (My favorite way to preserve anything.) Yes, but not the best way. I do love canned pears but have never canned. Mr. Google, can you tell me how to can pears if I decide to give it a try? Why yes!!

I already had lots of jars because of my honey, I just had to buy lids. I went over to the basement of the old house and found a blue speckled canner and one of those funnel things in Leo's shop that a little scrubbing made as good as new, almost. To make a long story short, I canned with much success and we enjoyed pears all winter.

This was a good year for fruit around here and when we were at Heather's wedding in July, I saw their pear tree was loaded. I told Sam to call me if she had some to share and she assured me she would. Just before we went to WI a few weeks ago, she called and said the pears were big, fat and delicious, so Bruce and I went down after we got home and brought home several bags of pears.

I sorted pears to varying degrees to ripeness, the ones that needed to be canned or eaten right now, went on the counter. The rest were sorted into boxes in the basement and left to ripen in the dark. I dug out all my canning stuff and went to work. Two hours later, I was feeling like the juggler who is trying to keep spinning plates on poles from crashing to the ground. While peeling and cutting the pears and preparing the syrup, I had to make sure the jars and lids were clean and hot when I was ready to pack them. By the time the canner was boiling, I had a total of three quart jars ready to can - REALLY, THREE?? Sigh.

I have repeated this 4 times since then, my kitchen looks like an atomic bomb went off, there are clouds of fruit flies everywhere and I ended up with twelve quarts of beautiful pears. REALLY, TWELVE?? Sigh.

Is it worth all that work?
Then I took a bite and swooned, nectar of the Gods! (Never mind my porch railing needs repainting.)
When I worked this hard for so few jars, I have new respect for those who can enough food to last them till the next summer.
That won't be me.


  1. me either, Julie....big sigh, I could never be like my mama in so many respects and canning is just one of many that she excelled at. I'm so glad you found her supplies to make the preserves!!! Love ya, CG

  2. I guess we all have a little Pioneer Woman in us, some more than others - RosannaVan