Canning the Harvest

Today we can walk into one of 4 or 5 grocery stores nearby and buy nearly anything we could possibly want. In such a time of plenty, some would ask why would I even need to can or store food. Once upon a time, there wasn’t such bounty readily available and families worked hard in their gardens and farms depending on a good crop for survival. Canning and storing all that they grew to survive the winter. Sometimes they would trade with neighbors for items they didn’t produce on their farms but otherwise, if they didn’t grow it they didn’t have it.

Growing up, I have fond memories of helping my grandma and mom break beans, shuck corn, and I always enjoyed eating the peas out of the pods as we prepped them to be canned. My family always had a big garden full of yummy veggies and fruits. We had many of the same convinces close by that we enjoy today but found that canning food from our garden was a more economical way to feed our big family. If you haven’t tried canning the goods from your garden or from the nearest fruit stand, try it. There is nothing more satisfying.

My Grandpa Dale Frehner wrote a memory in his journal of canning goods from his childhood. He grew up in Mesquite, NV and was the first of 11 children.

“In lots of ways those years were like pioneer living. In hot summers jumping in the big ditch was the only way to cool off. Heat for winter months came from a fireplace and cooking stove. There was a big effort in the summer to prepare food to last the winter, that meant lots of “bottling” to fill the cellar. The cellar shelves were filled with bottled fruit, vegetables and meat. It was a beautiful sight. We raised our own animals to slaughter for winter. We always had a carrot pit – a hole in the ground where carrots were placed and dug up again when needed. They stayed fresh. We always had a half beef or pork wrapped in a Levi quilt. We just sliced off what was needed from the meat. These were hard times for us….depression, then the war. There were lots of hobos and gypsies moving through. The hobos always got some food. They were asked to chop wood while mom made something for them. Only one time did a hobo steal some food. One pushed through a screened air vent and took some bottled fruit”.

Items needed

Mason Jars (should be tempered glass)

Ring Lids

Inner Lids

Water Bath Canner, I got mine from Smith & Edwards (est. $21.99)

Jar grabber or some sort of tongs to lift the hot jars from the water.

Step 1 Run your bottles, and lids through the dishwasher to sanitize.

Step 2 Pour or place the food inside the jar and wipe off the top rim to make sure it is clear of food so it will seal.

Step 3 Put on the inner lid and the ring lid and tighten.

Sept 4 Fill the Water Bath with water and heat up (place bottles in the water before it is boiling or bottles will shatter)

Step 5 Use jar lifters or tongs to place the jars in the water. Make sure there is enough water to cover the tops of the bottle by about an inch.

Step 6 Once the water boils, set a timer for 25 minutes.

Step 7 After boiling for 25 minutes remove the bottles with tongs and place on a towel on the counter and leave for 24 hours before placing in storage. (Check the button in the middle of the lid to make sure it sealed, if not refrigerate and eat)

My Favorites

Diced tomatoes with celery, and onions. This is the perfect base for any soup, spaghetti sauce or casserole. First, dip each tomato in a pot of boiling water for 20-30 seconds. Rinse in cold water and place on a cookie sheet. This will loosen the skin from the Tomato and make it really easy to peel. Use a paring knife and take the skin off.  I fill up my pot with tomatoes skinned and diced, diced celery and onions and let it simmer for 30 minutes. Pour into clean bottles and seal.

Peaches…Same as the tomatoes above, first dip each peach in a pot of boiling water for 20-30 seconds. Rinse in cold water and place on a cookie sheet. This will loosen the skin from the peach and make it really easy to peel. Use a paring knife and take the skin off. Cut up the peaches and put in clean jars. Fill up your jars with hot water. Tap the jar on the counter to help them settle in the jar. Add sugar to make a yummy syrup. I don’t like lots of sugar in mine. I usually put ½ cup in each jar. Close up and seal.

Freezer Corn. I don’t have a big enough garden to grow corn so I buy mine from a local farmer. I blanch the corn on the cob in my big pot and cut the kernels off the cob. Then I put them in freezer bags. Write the date on the front and put them in the freezer. A friend gave me a piece of wood with a nail through the middle that the cob goes on so I can cut the kernels off easily. I put the wood concoction in the middle of a bowl and cut down. Easy peezy.

Dried apples… My kids love dried apples dipped in jello powder. Our favorite flavors are strawberry and raspberry. Core and thin slice apples and dip them in jello powder on one side. Place in the dehydrator for about a day (watch them for best results). Your kitchen will smell so sweet. It is a favorite taught to us by Grandma Spelts. After dehydrating place in jars and seal just like above.

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