Less than a hundred years ago, before the invention of canned vegetables, meats, and sauces in aluminum cans, almost everyone had what was referred to as a “patch” or a piece of ground or soil that was dedicated to a garden and the growing fresh vegetables. Most homes had their own fruit trees or knew someone who had plum, pear, peach, fig, or apricot trees that would have summer branches hanging low and heavy with sweet, ripe, delicious fruit for canning and preserving.
Today, we can buy anything that we need in the local supermarket. Why is growing food and canning produce a matter of consequence today? Simply stated, you are what you eat and it is a matter of preference. It has been proven and substantiated that there are contaminants in processed foods. Additionally the canning processing strips fruit and vegetables of texture, taste, vitamins, and nutritional value. Therefore, even with today’s conveniences, it is possible to borrow some of the wisdom and skill utilized in the past to grow and can foods, take that gained knowledge and use it in the present to provide security and the peace of mind of knowing that the food being eaten is healthfully prepared, sterile, and nutritionally superior, thereby eliminating dependency and effectively promote self-sufficiency in the future.
How can we achieve this objective without regressing or trying to turn back the hands of progress? The answer is: simply using our ingenuity, skill, and education to plant a small garden and attempt to grow some of our own food. For example, in the spring or during an Indian summer visit the local garden center and purchase some seeds and starter plants. If there is not adequate space, purchase some potting soil and containers to place on the patio. Try growing squash, green beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, strawberries, onions, radishes, or choose any seeds and plants that are suited to your climate. By using your own “patch” of earth, you can experience the beauty, joy, and self-satisfaction of watching those little seeds burst through the fertile soil and develop into producing plants, which can be realized with nourishment, gardening care that includes water, and sunlight. It will take time, but when you pluck the first small red, ripe cherry tomatoes, harvest a bowl of fresh, tender, and succulent green beans, or make a fresh salad with your homegrown lettuce, carrots, and cucumbers; it will be worth the effort; the taste will be phenomenal. .
Contact an older relative or senior citizen who remembers the days of home canning and ask them how to can fresh produce. They will delight in telling you the steps needed to prepare and can your own fresh vegetables and fruits in your own kitchen. If you do not know any older friends or have any older relatives, make a trip to a senior citizen’s home. Simply strike up a conversation by asking some questions. Not only will you make a memory for yourself, but also you will literally erase the loneliness of a senior resident by allowing them to reminisce about the past and help you embrace this wonderful experience. You won’t need it, but for assurance visit your local library and checkout some books on home canning. Next, visit the department store and purchase a pressure cooker, some glass canning jars, such as Mason jars, a proportionate number of sealing flats and rims, a couple of large pots, bowls, paring knives, tongs, and some sugar if you are planning to can fruit.
Early in the morning, visit your local farmer’s market and ask for the freshest produce available. Purchase a bushel or two of green beans (½ pound per quart jar), black-eyed peas, new potatoes, carrots, peaches, and tomatoes to start. Contact family or friends and invite them to a pea shelling, green bean snapping, carrot slicing,and peach peeling home canning party. Most assuredly there will be more acceptances than refusals. Prepare some fresh lemonade, popcorn, or snacks and enjoy an evening of the tales of yesteryear, good wishes with your project, and the shared hopes of the future that will probably include subsequent canning parties for others who see how well your endeavor is working out. Enjoy!