Saturday, May 2, 2020

Once A Year

It's strawberry season in the south. There's a farm just outside of town with a big U-Pik-Em sign on the road. This year it's They-Pik-Em although I can't imagine there's any actual risk being out solo in a row of strawberry plants with a wooden basket. Whatever. I bought a flat, about 8 pints of berries. I used about 2/3s of them to make jam.

The pot on the left is heating, that's the first batch. The berries on the right are measured out and waiting. It's labor intensive and time consuming. You have to have the jars and lids boiling, the mix boiling, and put it all together hot.

I do it once a year.

I can imagine doing this through the summer and into the fall, as crops ripen, putting up corn, beans, pickles, peas, and fruit. Every jar representing the labor from planting to harvest. Put up in the cellar for meals anticipated and hoping you had enough to take the family through until the next harvest. It would be a very different experience from putting cans in a shopping cart off a list.

The past, as Borepatch quoted, is a different place. People lived at a different pace.


FredLewers said...

That lifestyle is going to be the new normal.

Greg said...

When we got married, we both had full sets of canning gear. And while it's no longer cost effective compared to store bought, we do enough every year to keep the skills up. Mostly beans tomatoes, and jams. My mother canned a lot as you describe, and I'll always cherish what she taught us.
When I was in construction as a kid, we built a house for a strawberry farmer, and every afternoon at quitin' time we'd pick a flat apiece. I did my level best to get sick of strawberries: morning, noon, and night, for weeks. Didn't work.
Our high desert climate is weeks behind yours, but we'll get there!

Howard Brewi said...

When we lived in up state New York my wife out up 1200 quarts total. At the time we had up to six kids of our own and sometimes a couple foster kids. We were dairy farming. Now we are retired in Alaska and do four or five kinds of jam,beets and carrots from the garden and green beans, tomatoes, pickles and relish from the green house. Also depending on luck fishing and hunting some salmon,moose and caribou. Most everything in pints and half pints. Keeps us out of trouble!

McChuck said...

Back when I was a kid, we canned green beans and tomato sauce every other weekend all summer. Blackberries got turned into jam. Apples went into the spare fridge in the garage (to keep them from freezing). Unfortunately, the pears mostly belonged to the yellow jackets.

SiGraybeard said...

Is that a chunk of butter in the pot cooking the berries?

I'm obviously completely ignorant about this.

ASM826 said...


Yes, about a tablespoon of butter in with the berries, sugar, and pectin. You have to get the mix to a rolling boil while stirring it to get the mix ready for the jars. Without a little butter, the mix would foam like it was bubble bath.

Old NFO said...

I'm with McC. Grew up eating canned goods all winter along with our share of the beef and hogs our family raised. I don't have any canning tools left, but seriously considering getting back into it as the farmer's markets are reopening.

JNorth said...

I do a lot of pressure canning, stock and soup mostly but also a fair amount of meat. Can be cost competitive vs stores in my area and I know exactly what is in there.

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

I only do simple things like jalapenos and garlic.

waepnedmann said...

Wifmann grew up on a farm near a small town in Arizona. One of her childhood memories was of her mother hauling water in buckets from the community ditch to water her garden.
They canned 900 quarts of food on a wood stove. Her job was sterilizing the jars while her brother chopped the wood for the fire.
She/we still can from our orchard and garden.
I called my BIL last week to brag on their mother, because we had four generations, Wifmann, her daughter, granddaughter, and great granddaughter canning beef over the weekend. They put up just under two hundred pounds of top round.
The last few years the work of canning has become more tiring and painful for Wifmann, but she says her mother's voice haunts her saying, "We had better put it up this year, because we might not get any next year."

Although, the past is a different country the veil of civilization is a border quickly crossed.