There has been an evolution of my thought process concerning how I feel about home canning. It has always been a ritual in my life. When we were young we would all pile into the van (any and all kids from every mom that were old enough to climb a tree or ladder) and drive to an orchard, set up our ladders and start picking. After we had filled what seemed like hundreds of boxes we would load them up and head home. The boxes would be split between the three homes, usually according to family size. My dad always tried to be fair.
I especially remember picking apples. That’s when I discovered that there were “varieties” of fruit. I would taste each one in it’s turn. The sweet Red Delicious, the bright green, tart Granny Smiths. Who makes up these names anyway? I don’t recall my favorite but I do remember that they were so fresh and juicy and you could taste the starchy flavor. Nowadays, with GMO’s and all the tricks they use to keep up with the demand, I don’t know if that flavor even exists anymore.
We ate so many apples while we picked that by the evening all the kids would get “the runs”! Our house was small so we didn’t have to run very far. The bigger problem was that we had only ONE bathroom.
When I was a kid it seemed like such a never-ending process that didn’t end until every last piece of fruit was preserved. Some fruits were definitely more difficult than others. I dreaded the applesauce and pears like the plague!
My way of thinking has certainly evolved. Now I actually enjoy canning. I love knowing that my home preserves are healthier than the canned foods at the market, so it’s a good feeling to see the food storage room filling up with jar after jar of delicious fruit. Also, I value the experience of teaching the kids the whole process.
Speaking of which, our daughters amazed me this last week while helping me bottle peaches. We had 16 boxes so it was no small chore. I got them started with their tools and a space to work. I was multi-tasking, as usual so I walked out of the kitchen to put in a batch of laundry. When I came back I found that they had created an assembly line.
I was doubtful at first because I was afraid there would be a bottle-neck (pun intended) but they kept at it and after a bit, I was challenged keeping up with them. Together, we preserved a total of 130 quarts of peaches. We also froze a bunch for smoothies.
One last thing I want to add: home canning can be a bonding experience for sister-wives. Talk about working together for a common goal! A task is so much easier when you share it. At our house, it is what we value…preserving food and preserving relationships.