Canning: A “Family” Tradition

Life Before Refrigerators And Freezers
It really wasn’t all that long ago women resorted to any means to preserve the bounty of their gardens by “canning”. Canning is an art that has been resurrected due to numerous problems with imported foods. From the garden to the canning cellar, women knew how important cleanliness and proper canning techniques were. Canning wasn’t just an art in most cases. It was also a necessity. Mothers taught daughters how to can by allowing them to “help” with the canning process. When refrigerators and freezers became a kitchen staple, the art of canning and the tradition waned. Now, with everyone going green, there’s a serious rethinking of how much safer home canning can be.

What’s It All About?
In order to manage the bulk of vegetables and fruits that grew in home gardens, it was necessary to find a way to preserve the bounty. The process is fairly simple. Fruits and vegetables are washed thoroughly. Then, they are partially cooked. Next, bottles and caps are given a quick bath in boiling water to insure they are sterilized. Bottles are filled nearly to the top and capped. The caps usually have a rubber seal to further insure that the bottle contents remain safe with a tight seal. This is the procedure for large batches of vegetables. The process for canning fruits is the same. However, jellies, jams and preserves have pectin added to the cooking process to retard spoilage. Sugar is added and the fruits are brought to a boil. These are placed clean, sterilized jars and wax is added as the seal. Then, a cap with a rubber seal is the final step.

The Advantages of Carrying On Canning As A Family Tradition
Nearly anything that grows can be canned if the proper steps are taken. Use a large clean pot to sterilize the bottles and caps. Make sure that the cooking pots for vegetables and fruits are also immaculately clean. Residue on cooking pots and pans is the main cause of a botulism. It’s a simple rule of First In, First Out. Vegetables and fruits should be the first ingredient in the pot and the first thing out. Canning as a family tradition is a form of teaching survival skills. The other advantages is that canning secures fruits and vegetables from the garden to the canning cellar and saves money on canned or frozen fruits and vegetables. There is rarely a problem with canned fruits and vegetables if the proper canning techniques are strictly adhered to. One other nice advantage is that your canning cellar is always at the ready whenever you run short for a quick meal.

Canning: A Family Tradition Once Again
Most individuals raised in the early part of the 1900′s remember with much nostalgia the ritual of canning as a family tradition. After each harvest of fruits or vegetables, Mother would ready her canning implements: her pots, her glass jars, tops, spoons and, of course, the fruits and vegetables. Kids loved to watch Mom pickle squash and watermelon rind while the scent of freshly picked blueberries, cherries, strawdberries and blackberries simmered in a thickening fruity melange in a big pot. Mom’s choreographed routine included deftly lifting the bottles from the boiling water, setting them on clean towels, filling bottles with fruits and vegetables and then capping them. The filled bottles looked like an army of soldiers ready to do battle against the coming winter. The bottles would be removed to the coolness of a canning cellar where they’d remain until the first snowfall.

The Best Part Of Canning, A Family Tradition
The ground outside is covered with snow. Yet, there’s a fresh bowl of canned applesauce, peach preserves or strawberry jam awaiting eager palates. This is the best part of canning, a family tradition that will always be one of the finest examples of the safe, simple life at home.