Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Why I love canning food

I feel as I get older, I find myself doing "old people" things. Who blows off going to the bar to do a crossword puzzle, make dinner and go to bed at 9 o'clock? Oh wait I do that now. (Only on weekdays, though. I'm not that lame ... yet.)

Either way, this evening I was reminded of an "old person" hobby I have - canning food. I had totally forgot about my stash of fruit and veggies hiding away in the kitchen cabinet until I had a craving for something sweet and spotted my homemade canned peaches. I hadn't tried that batch yet and I was pleasantly surprised with myself when I did.

Andrew gorging on peaches. You can tell how happy he is to pose for me.
This summer, I finally had the room and time to have a garden. I shared duties with one of my roommates, so I won't take all the credit for making it grow, but it GREW. By July we were pulling 5 to 6 cucumbers a day. We had pounds of green beans and zucchini and squash big enough for the state fair. Needless to say, we had more vegetables than we knew what to do with.

My solution: buying a canner.

Living with three boys who worked a regular 9-5 all summer, and working all night shifts myself, I had plenty of time during the day to try out my canning skills. I canned squash and blackberries. I tried my hand at jam. I made pickles, dilly beans, and spiced peaches. Some of it was awesome (the peaches) some of it was not so hot (the jam). Overall though, great success!

An array from the canned goods shelf.
The whole time I pickled cucumbers, I hummed Greg Brown's song "Canned Goods" - a favorite of my mother's and begrudgingly, now one of my own. Although I didn't quite feel like a grandma, I understood where ole Greggers was coming from when he sang:

"Ah she's got magic in her - you know what I mean
She puts the sun and the rain in with her green beans ...

You can taste a little of the summer
My grandma put it all in jars ...

What with the snow and the economy and everything
I think I'll just stay down here and eat 'til spring."

There's something extremely satisfying about eating the food you grew and preserved yourself. There's a pride in my mason jars that makes my food taste that much better because 1. I'm surprised I did it well and 2. It's totally mine.

Although I'm not really a grandma, and I didn't can nearly enough to fill a root cellar, I feel that sense of doing something traditional; something with roots; something to pass on. I'll be sure to save at least one can of dilly beans to eat this spring when the world is ready to produce again.


  1. This is my favorite post yet Lu...and not just because you mentioned me!

  2. send me some spiced peaches! yum!