Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Canning Time

Summer days were filled to the brim. With a growing family Mom had planted a bigger garden and days were filled with picking up any stones we could find between the rows of vegetables and piling them beside the garden for Daddy to use on one of his many projects. I enjoyed picking stones much more than pulling weeds which also thrived in abundance.

It was always fun to start the canning season. Peas were always the first vegetables ready to harvest. Shelling peas was a tiresome job. With several five gallon buckets heaped full, we would get bowls and sit on the front porch swing and start shelling them. To make a boring job more fun we often played guessing games while we worked or sang songs.

Once we were done shelling them Mom would wash them to remove any of the dirt that happened to get into the bowls of peas while John and I went to the attic to find the jars Mom needed. Once we found the jars, they needed to be scrubbed in hot soapy water, which I thought was a total waste of time since they looked clean already.

Once the jars were scrubbed to Mom's specifications we would fill them with peas and carefully measure a teaspoon of salt into each jar and then filled them with water and turned the lids on tightly. Mom would set the filled jars in a canner and cover them with water and light the burner under the canner. Once we saw a few puffs of steam escape from the canner we would check the clock and calculate the time the peas could be removed from the canner three hours later.

Several days later another batch of peas would be ready to can and we would go through the whole process again. And so it continued all summer long, as one vegetable ended another one started and by fall it seemed everything wanted to ripen before the first frost and days were hectically busy with piles of sweetcorn and bushels of tomatoes and green beans plus the fruit, peaches, pears, and early apples. We would no longer have time to pick rocks and the weeds used to wave victoriously at us as we worked from morning till night everyday canning food to take us through until the next summer.

Every once in a while after a particularly warm and tiring day Mom would send John and me to the corner grocery store in the village to buy a box of ice cream for a treat for supper. The half mile walk was worth it as we stood in McLaughlin's Store and Mr. McLaughlin would open the freezer and let us choose a box of ice-cream. He was a kindly old man and would often give us each a Popsicle to eat on the way home. We never could make those Popsicles last until we got home as we thoroughly enjoyed the refreshing cold sweetness they provided after working all day.


  1. Made me think of my own garden this year. Some things did really well while a lot of others didn't. I'm looking forward to giving it another shot this summer. I enjoy canning and the sense of accomplishment that comes with it.

  2. Here I have been missing summer today, with freezing temps in FL, and now you have me craving fresh summer veggies. LOL MMMMMMM.

  3. love to can, I haven't since I moved to Hawaii. I find a lot of satisfaction in it, and my family savors it much more than the store bought. Peaches are a favorite, the kids love to go to the u-pick farms in Calif, and they would always want to keep picking beyond our limits. It was good family time. Time in the kitchen together especially now that they are teens, really create some quality time to talk while we cook. I love that you sang songs or played games to make the time pass. ah the simple things really are the greatest!
    Aloha wishes

  4. I have some good memories of canning with my parents, too.

    Wasn't that the greatest thing in the world as kids to be given a special treat?

  5. I've never canned anything and that's something I've always wanted to do (at least try!). I can't imagine doing it in an unairconditioned kitchen over a hot stove though - YOWZA!!! I just picture in the movie "Holiday Inn" when the man gives his canned peaches as gifts and they explode - I'd be afraid they'd do that! It was pretty funny though ~ ♥

  6. What a nice picture to think of in this cold. :)
    I remember my grandma canning and helping her work in her garden. We didn't have much of one growing up and I don't remember my mom canning if she did. As a result, I don't know how to can. I hope to learn this summer though and we plan to have a large garden. :)

  7. That's a great story of a family working together. Nice of your mom to let you have a reward after a hard day of canning.

  8. Thank you for visiting and leaving a comment on my blog! It is a real blessing to me to have found your blog as well as the others you list as favorites. Happiness to me is living the simple life and I love being a wife, mother and Christian so your blog and the others inspire me. I have always had a deep desire to learn more about the Amish. I always crave a lifestyle like theirs. Thanks for sharing. :o)

  9. Oh the memories this post brought rushing to my mind.
    I fondly remember setting with my Grandmother as a child shelling peas.
    And helping as the other vegetables came along. Great childhood memories.

  10. never canned peas before but peaches, pairs and a few veggies. very satifying seeing the bottles lines up for the next years food!

  11. Your canning memories are much the same as mine, I especially remember picking up rocks from the garden area. Even though we knew we had moved them all from the garden as soon as it rained there was a whole new batch.
    I remember snipping and snapping green beans every year. I still have a garden in the summertime and I still do a little canning but most of the time I freeze produce now.


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