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, July 20, 2010

The Year I Learned How to Can and a Recipe

In 1976 we moved to a small town in No. Illinois. I've written about this town many times before, but I wanted to tell more about my summers there...so here goes. We lived next door to a couple who had no children. He had his own business and his wife took care of the books and was a homemaker. They had a huge garden behind the family business. This garden was meticulous...rows straight as an arrow. 65 tomato plants that he grew from seed....everything from spring onions to corn. We were lucky to live next to these generous people. Everything was shared. She would bring me samples of everything she made. Zucchini cookies, rhubarb strawberry freezer jam, German potato salad, stir fried cabbage with bacon come to mind. He would bring me "bouquets" of radishes...all nicely cleaned....new potatoes, with skin so tender and pink...shucked corn, right at supper time..ready for the boiling water....and cucumbers and zucchini ...buckets of them. What would I do with all these things, I wondered? I visited one day, and noticed as I went in the door that flies had gathered on the screen door. They were attracted by the sweet smell coming from the house. The kitchen smelled so spicy and delicious.There were two canners boiling away on the stove. Her counters were covered with cotton towels and jars of pickles were pinging.These were her special sweet pickles that she called 7 day pickles. After we visited, she sent a jar of these home with me. I cooled them in the frig and we had them with our supper. Crisp, sweet, crunchy, bright green morsels filled my mouth with a sweet sour taste. I was hooked. I started searching garage sales for a canner...an old blue granite canner. I found boxes of canning jars at homes where elderly people lived...who had given up canning. I heard stories about their canning days as I went from sale to sale. My trunk was loaded with all the supplies I would need. I started buying books on canning, books about living off the land, even the FoxFire books. These books were full of ideas. Making my own soap, crafts using twigs, how to build a campfire, how to dress a hog. Well, I didn't ever dress a hog. I sat and waited for him to bring me something from the garden....and bring something he did. Buckets of tomatoes, beautiful juicy ripe tomatoes. By this time, I was getting into gardening as well. I had my own tomatoes and other veggies too. There were ideas in my books on how to make the canning area more attractive with hanging ropes of garlic, and peppers, Drying bunches of herbs tied with jute. A pretty stenciled shelf paper.I opened the cookbook and started in. When my husband came home for lunch, the tomatoes were lining my counter pinging away. He smiled at his wife's new hobby. The shelves in the basement were ready...a perfect spot for these treasures. I lined the shelves with jars of tomatoes, chili sauce, chow chow, salsa, beets, applesauce, dilly beans,grape jelly, and an empty shelf for the pickles that I would make next year. My basement had crocks of sour kraut and the following year...a crock of dill pickles and those wonderful 7 day sweet pickles. The next year, I had flies on my screen door and we two were in sort of a competition ..."What did you can today? Can I have the recipe? Here, try this." I got so many buckets of things from these generous people and I returned the favor by sending over many, many baked items. Cookies, bread, cake...and candy. I cherish the memories of living next door to someone who taught me about generosity and how to can.


7 lbs. cucumbers water to cover

1 quart vinegar

8 cups sugar

2 tablespoons salt

2 tablespoons mixed pickling spices

Wash cucumbers and cover with boiling water. Allow to stand for 24 hours, then repeat this process daily using fresh boiling water until the fifth day. On morning number 5, slice cucumbers into 1/4 inch thick rings.
Prepare a vinegar brine:
In a non-reactive saucepan, boil vinegar, sugar, salt and spices. Pour over cucmbers. Allow to stand for 24 hours.
The next morning, drain brine. Bring brine to a boil; add cucmbers.
Pack in sterilized jars and seal while hot.
Process 10 minutes in boiling water bath.


Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Balisha, when I was married I used to have a huge vegetable garden and canned a lot. It was a lot of work in a hot, steamy kitchen. Got all my recipes from my Mom. She had a wonderful recipe for dilled green beans. They were still crisp but had somewhat the flavor of a dill pickle.

Anonymous said...

Oh I got to bookmark this recipe, thanks. I really want to start canning. It would be great to be able to put up some stuff from the garden. :)

sunny smiles said...

Nice post..very descriptive!I can smell the spices...(:

Anonymous said...

Hi Balisha, We must surely be related! lol. I bet you are my long lost sister or something. I used to have every Foxfire Book there was. I gave them to my son several years ago. I remember one time when I was going to try and make soap and my mother-in-law thought I was going to poison my twin girls! I think she always feared what I was going to do next when we lived on the farm and the girls were little. I am keeping your recipe and next year I am planning a garden. I don't have my canner anymore but I have all winter to find one in a flea market. I absolutely loved canning and freezing stuff from the garden. Hope Joe is feeling much better by now.

Pat said...


I hope some day to have the time to learn to put up veggies and fruit. Your blog name could be my name...Never Enough Time Patricia. Thanks for sharing...great post!

Lona said...

I remember well those canning days. We use to can everything to have something to eat in the winter. We even canned sausage links.
I use to make the seven day pickles and also freezer pickles which we loved because they were so crisp.

One Woman's Journey - a journal being written from Woodhaven - her cottage in the woods. said...

Balisha, like you and Judy - I must be a sister also!! I did all of that in the past. Had special neighbors that gave me their treasured recipes. Everything you needed - I had it at the old farm house.
Now this garden at the edge of the woods supplies just enough for the table and a little to share - not enough to can
Gave all my canning things away.
Keep having thoughts of starting up again. But do not think so with all the other things I do.
Like - solo - gardening and on and on. I would like to make some old fashion pear preserves. Could eat them every morning.
You brought back a ton of memories.
Shelves and two freezer stayed full.

Wsprsweetly Of Cottages said...

Where has my passion gone for doing things like this? I wonder about that...and it isn't getting any better. I plump the pillows..feed the birds, water the plants, fill the fountains in the yard, sweep here, sweep there...but as for the canning, the crafting...and now even the baking that I so loved...I no longer push myself to do it. Where has my passion for this sort of thing gone? I wonder if it went with Patrick. :) Still, I love to read about it..and I loved this post!
I hope Joe is doing well. And you are doing well?

Balisha said...

Hi everybody,It seems that many of us (gardeners) love to keep things for winter..be it canning or freezing. I am so glad that I learned how to can when I did. Many a time those jars sitting on my shelf, came in handy when times were a little tough.I used to look at all my sparkling jars and think that it was like looking at art. I'm glad that many of you had the same experience....kindred spirits, you know :)

Britt-Arnhild said...

Great post Balisha :-)