canning, country living, food preservation

Getting canned

PeachesI was finally able to put my Christmas present from my husband from 2 years ago to good use today and canned some peaches.  This was my first attempt at canning.  And even though I followed the directions explicitly, I’m still a little nervous.  I mean, nothing says “I Love you, dear family,” like a good old-fashioned case of botulism.

I wanted to learn about canning my own foods for several reasons.  First, I like knowing exactly what goes into my food.  Second, I like knowing how my food is prepared.  And finally, I think anytime you can learn a survival skill, it’s a good thing.  I don’t anticipate the end of the world as we know it, but I do hope to have a good sized garden next year and want to put up some of my own produce.  So half a box of Palisades Peaches from Colorado later, and I’ve got eight pints of juicy peach goodness to enjoy throughout the winter.

This isn’t the first food preservation I’ve done.  I’ve put up some freezer jam and frozen vegetables.  And each hunting season, Outdoor Guy and I process all our own game meat, everything from elk and antelope to deer and grouse.  But it was my first attempt at hot water canning.  What can I say?  The whole poison my family with a neourtoxic protein made me wary.  But after Outdoor Guy gifted me a canning set two Christmases ago, I was committed.

Canning has been around since the early 1800s, but it is probably best associated with the war effort from World War I and WWII.  American citizens planted “Victory Gardens” and used canning to preserve their harvest.  My mother-in-law was an avid canner.  Outdoor Guy talks about endless hours on a kitchen chair snapping green beans in the summer.  Green beans, beets, potatoes, tomatoes, relish, pickles, jellies, jams…the list of food his mom canned was limited only by what she could grow in Wyoming’s climate.

Today, it’s so much easier to just pick up your canned goods at the grocery store.  You can forgo the hot summer spent tending a garden and the hassle of standing over a hot stove all day and buy a can of peaches for less that it costs to make your own.  Canning has become a lost art, of sorts, along with sewing, baking and home repair.  It seems like we outsource everything but sleeping.

So I take a little pride in learning a skill like canning.  It felt almost noble to spend my Sunday elbow deep in syrup and fruit with screw bands scattered about.  When I was little I used to pretend to be Laura Ingalls Wilder.  Now I’m one step closer to living the dream. 🙂



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