They were always the hottest days of the year: my mom would be working in the kitchen, my dad would be harvesting from the garden. The kitchen steamed with the huge canning kettle and mom worked from early in the morning until evening. Jars were set out to cool, and lids popped as the warm summer evening in Southern California began to cool and the air filled with the scent of night blooming jasmine. The kitchen would smell like my mom’s homemade chile sauce for days.
I’m sure I helped, though I don’t remember the specifics. I remember sitting cross legged on the floor in the playroom, watching ChiPs or The Muppet Show with my brother while I snapped green beans. It was a three bowl system: fresh beans, ends, and the final snapped beans. I used that system just a week or so back. My little garden doesn’t produce the quantity our quarter acre of my childhood produced: my parents are amazing gardeners. There were wheelbarrows full of carrots, bushels of tomatoes, and stacks of corn. Oh for the love of homegrown corn.
The cupboard in the garage stored jars of salsa, tomatoes, beans and chile. The shelves were lined with shelf paper, and everything was in its place. It was just how life was. You grew things, you canned them, you froze them, simple enough.
But it’s not that simple, is it? For many of us, we’re not taking up the art of canning until it’s introduced to us through the lens of eating and supporting local economy. Of eating healthy. Of growing our own. And for many of us, we don’t have a clue what we’re doing.
I was so fortunate to have my “homestead hook-up” two years ago show up on my doorstep with her daughter, books, and her canning equipment, prepared to show me how to can foods. We spent an afternoon canning pickled carrots, apple ginger jam, and cinnamon apples. She taught me about carefully wiping the edges of the jars, sterilization, and how to pull hot jars out of the kettle. And she left all of her equipment with me to safely hold onto until she needs it back. I am blessed to have good people in my life.
So it’s time to pay it forward! And that’s where you come into play, my dear readers. I’m giving away a Fresh Preserving Kit from Jarden Home Brands, the makers of Ball Brand Fresh Preserving Products, to a lucky reader of this blog. The kit has everything you need to get started preserving food, including a large water bath canner, a canning rack, jar lifter, lid lifter, funnel and bubble removal tool. Score! It looks like this:
To enter to win the kit, leave a comment on this post of your fondest memory or memory you hope to make, about canning. I’ll randomly select a winner: you need to leave your comment by midnight, Monday August 10th, and I’ll announce the winner on August 11th. Make sure you leave an e mail address!
Thank you to the committed food preservers and bloggers who are a part of Canning Across America: Canvolution! Check out the blog for how to get involved this month in helping grow awareness, demonstrate and can the bounty of this year’s harvest in your community.