Saturday, November 22, 2008

Home Canned, With Love

I love to can things. Sometimes I even find myself thinking about what I can can (:>). Or, give new meaning to the campaign phrase, "YES, I CAN!" It's odd, though, since I don't use cans. "I love to jar" doesn't have quite the same pizzazz.

We never had a vegetable garden when I was a kid, so I don't have memories of my mom canning; although I do remember her going to my grandparents' farm for a couple weeks every August/September to help my grandma. I was never asked to participate, and so never learned. Tom taught me to can when we lived in the Missouri Ozarks (1980-1982). Boy howdy, was that an old-timey experience! Our only stove was wood burning, so stirring a big ol' pot of blackberry jam on top of a VERY hot stove, when the air temperature (in South Missouri, mind you) was about 100 was not all that pleasant. We had a gigantic crop of tomatoes, though, and had to do something with them. We tried doing it outside once, but the jars broke as soon as the air hit them.

The student has now surpassed the teacher. Tom's not all that into it any more (although I think he likes it that I am). I'm totally into using a pressure canner now. I was always sort of scared of a pressure cooker, but Tom's mom loaned me hers one year to can a bunch of green beans, and I was hooked. I went and bought one as soon as I returned hers.

My daughter is kind of into it now, which I think is totally cool. We have canned salsa and spaghetti sauce recently. She wants to do some minestrone soon.

Soup is my favorite thing to can. I always make too much soup (especially since it's just Tom and I at home now), and we have very limited freezer space. Now I intentionally make too much (in fact, I make it in my 16-quart electric roaster). When it's canned in quart jars, it's the perfect amount for two people. Currently, I have jars of turkey soup, beef stew, and chili in the basement. When you make soups with meat in them, you HAVE to use the pressure canner to make it safe.

My fantasy house will have a place to display all my home canned goodies -- they look so pretty! My reality house has no such place, so my canned goods are in boxes in a little room under the stairs.

My brother loves to can things, too, which is sort of funny considering we didn't grow up with it. He and I call each other all the time to get and give advice. We've talked before about why we do it, since really good commercially canned stuff is available and cheap. No answers to that, except that it's just immensely satisfiying.

It's really cold today, so I think I'll go open a jar of chili.