A Sentiment

God knew what He was doing when He sent a gentle breeze and brought a lovely butterfly to set my heart at ease. The happiness of your friendship and the gentleness of your words have touched my life in special ways and now I feel assured. Thank you for your loyalty and for reading everyday. I only hope you find things to make a happy day.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Filling the Larder

Back in the 70's I was a stay at home Mom. We had three kids...two of them had graduated and we had one left at home. We had just moved to a little country town called Hampshire. My friends were all working away from the home and once in a while we would get to talking about the value of staying at home with our kids. I always said that Moms spent so much money to work....childcare, transportation, clothing, lunches, and all the other things that go with working outside the home. I contended that I could stay at home and have, maybe, a little less money, but I could find ways to save money and still be at home with my child.
The first summer at home, I started something that would continue for a long time. It became a passion for me. Preserving food...food that would last all winter. I had all the necessary ingredients...a neighbor with a surplus of produce, canning equipment, a freezer, a place in the basement for storage, and most of all....time.Late winter would be the time that I would be going through my favorite canning and freezing books. I could read them like novels. They were used so much...that the pages started falling out. I envisioned a blizzard and my family feasting on what I had "put up" that summer.  Our neighbors had a huge garden and he would bring me 5 gal. buckets of leftovers from his garden. I planted rhubarb, tomatoes, and other veggies in my small garden. His wife and I became good friends and would share recipes and tastes of things that we were canning. Early spring would find me making freezer jam. Rhubarb, pineapple, and strawberry jello made wonderful jam. My family really enjoyed this for breakfast toast. Then came pickles. I canned every kind of pickle you could think of. Even dilly beans. 

 I had pickles in crocks, jars and in huge bowls on my kitchen counter in all stages of pickling. I would try a new recipe and rush a jar over to  my neighbor to try. She did the same. What fun we had.We tried all kinds of new things....some good and a few that we wouldn't make again.
 When tomatoes came in season, we were swamped. They grew about 50 tomato plants I had my 9 plants. We canned tomatoes of every variety.Early morning would find me doing my canning...before it got hot.  After having what I thought would last us through the winter, I would make my favorite...chili sauce. I think it would be the hottest day of the summer, when chili sauce was on my stove. It needed to be cooked down, from a very watery mixture to a thick sauce...My neighbor learned how to make this from me. We didn't have air conditioning at that time, and our screens would be covered with flies...just wanting to get in...the smell probably drove them crazy. Oh, I can taste it now...I loved it. My Mom always made this...even when she and Dad had retired and lived in the apartment. As they grew older, I took on the job of making it and sharing it with them.My sister-in-law started making it too.This is a family favorite. I buy it now..It's not nearly as good as home made. Heinz makes a pretty good one and then my favorite little jar of Homade Chili Sauce.

 .Jan and I used to sit in her driveway early in the year and shell peas and tip and tail green beans. Her husband brought me "bouquets of Easter Egg radishes. Potatoes dug fresh out of the garden were a special treat. Our meals were always tasty during the summers. OH....I forgot zucchini....jams, breads, just sauteed in butter, then jams, breads again and again. We had an over abundance of zucchini. When neighbors saw her husband coming during zucchini season with a big zucchini under his arm...they would think up any excuse to not take it. Everyone was sick of zucchini in the summer.
I love beets...small beets. He would bring me bowling ball sized beets at the end of the growing season. I would cut away the woodiness and pickle them. They were still good. A jar of pickled beets in the winter...is Heaven to me. 
We made a relish called chow chow. Chopped cabbage was the main ingredient in this sort of sweet relish...along with many other veggies. My mother-in-law was the one who taught me to make this. I was the only one who liked it at our house...so a jar would last me quite a while
How could I forget sauerkraut? One year I filled a huge crock with cabbage and made sauerkraut. It kind of smelled funny for a little while, but the scent disappeared as time went on. Scooping the top of the crock was a daily job. It was the best sauerkraut that my husband had ever had. .
I loved the look of jars on my counter. Such an accomplishment. I was reading a cookbook that showed pictures of shelving in the basement and how you could decorate the shelves with things that would need storing and would be decorative at the same time. I hung garlic ropes on my wooden shelves and pretty shelf paper. The jars would line up as they were canned. Sometimes I would just go down and look at these pretty things. It gave me such a feeling of satisfaction and safety. If we had a bad winter...lots of snow....a blizzard perhaps...I could bring up a jar of pickles or tomatoes and we would have a taste of summer on the coldest day.

Later, we would find apples along the road and pick them for applesauce and I have always gathered pinecones for wreaths and decorating...and grapevines to fill a truck.Wild flowers along the road for my craft sales, became an annual hunt. I forgot....nuts and bittersweet oh so many things.. I guess I will always be a gatherer.  
I still feel the need to gather in the fall. I like a full freezer and pantry. I don't do the work anymore, but when fall comes I get the urge to  get out the canner and start canning.


deb @ frugal little bungalow said...

I am reading your post while eating some lunch and guess what is simmering on my stove right now ? A big pot of tomatoes from my garden.

Just loved this post! :0 )

Prince Snow Farm said...

Wish you were closer! It's the one thing I haven't done! I freeze some tomatoes, but I would love to can! i am afraid! What nice memories you have of it!

Blondie's Journal said...

I know those were the good old days for you, Balisha, and it's so neat to know that the tradition goes on, especially now that we know that fresh food is the healthiest and that we need to stay away from processed foods. When I was able to have my first truly big garden at the lake many years ago, I had 17 tomato plants! So...my neighbor taught me how to can just by boiling everything to sterilize and we went on to make jars and jars of salsa and pasta sauces to can. I got innovative with my food processor and blended in zucchini and carrots with my tomatoes to make a healthy sauce without my kids knowing all the veggies it included!

I'm getting my gardening mojo back, maybe next year I'll enough of something to can! lol! I really enjoyed this post, I love hearing your memories and thoughts!


Balisha said...

I didn't follow up and say that I started freezing tomatoes later on. I did that last year with peppers. This is so much easier than canning, but lacks the beauty of seeing your results in jars on a shelf...shining like jewels.
Anyway you do it...the tomatoes taste wonderful in the winter, when the snow flies.

marlu said...

My mother canned a lot during the war. She also made chow chow but I didn't know what was in it! I would never have guessed cabbage. I thought it was more like salsa.

She also canned green beans by a new (to her) method overnight in the oven. One jar exploded, blew the door off the oven and green beans all over the walls of the newly painted kitchen! That was the end of oven canning.

Judy said...

Oh me too!! Two years ago, I gave my big 9 quart jar canner to my sister, along with all my jars. My Mohter had a fabulous sweet pickle--it sat for 14 days in the crock--had Cassia Oil in it. My grandma made chow chow when I was little--so I did when I got bigger. On the farm, I had a 95'x45' garden. Strawberries, raspberries (red and black), row after row of sweet corn, planted two rows every two weeks in the spring. Potatoes, tomatoes, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower--on and on. How much fun I thought it was--now sad that I don't have the room for a garden, nor for the canned goods, BUT, I always make a few pints of sweet pickle relish and my grandma's bread and butter pickles.

Axiesdad said...

Your post brings back such memories, not of doing this myself, but of my mother canning on the farm while I was growing up. Dad was a tenant farmer so canning wasn't something done for fun; it was a vital supplement to his meager cash income.

I found your post through a link at "Frugal Little Bungalow" which was posted on "The Grand Social" at "Grandma's Briefs"