I know, I know...deep in the heart of harvest season, I complain about how there is so little time, how I can't get it all done, how there's buckets of beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, and beets all waiting for attention in my hot garage. I've run out of jars, I've switched over to freezing, the freezer bags are gone, I've got to run to the dreaded Stuffmart, I need to buy more jars, where's the lids, it's about time I bought myself a doggone funnel...yada, yada, yada.???
But, thanks for listening to me moan and groan - I do it every year, and then a couple of months later, when it has silently been declared (in my own mind) the official "we're late enough in the fall to feel justified to pop the much anticipated seal of our blessed canning jar" day, the chorus belts out their resounding rendition of the "Hallelujah Chorus" as I pull the can opener out of the drawer and hover for a moment over the Bell (or is it Mason this time?) label. Is it too soon? Am I tapping into the reserves earlier than I should? Will we run short if I start opening the jars aimlessly now rather than tomorrow, or next week? Is this truly the time and the place? Have I run out of fresh options from the garage? Are the sweet potatoes and squash not fitting for tonight's meal

As I obsess over this heart wrenching decision, my husband comes up behind me, grabs the can opener and pops it open himself. Well, not really, because he can't figure the Pampered Chef thing out, so he ruminates for a bit on a real can opener, never stopping once to think that this is only the type of lid that has to be popped off, not actually cut open. But, I digress.

Whhoooootttt. Ahhh, the lovely sound of a sealed jar being released from the inner sanctum. Who can resists the alter ego of the "ping" you hear as your reflect back to a hotter time of restlessly standing at attention, waiting for your precious little babies to seal themselves off from the outside world? Like a new mother, the release of the seal brings you full circle to the realization that you, yes you, preserved these fruits of your labor, in love (yes, that was love in August and September - however warped it looked at the time!), for your precious family. Like the labor process, you have forgotten the pain of planting, weeding, feeding, nurturing, harvesting, washing, peeling, prepping, heating, and sterilizing these precious commodities...the energy, crabbiness, and pruney fingers were all worth every ounce of effort as you stare into the jar of joy. And, now, you are going to create a masterpiece, based around this special little don't need corn! (Good, because you don't have any right now...) Beans, yes, beans are rising to the top of the ingredient list tonight as you create (wait for it...) Shepherd's pie! Nothing will feature your canned beans better than a down home, comforting casserole such as this! And, wait, what did you say? You're opening another??? Yes, pickles. The perfect side dish, and, once again, you swell with pride as you remember how coddled those little seedlings were in the beginning, only to grow to a size that were too big to handle in any other setting but a sliced pickle. A tear forms as you reminisce on how quickly they grow. How quickly.
You open. You taste. You pucker. You spit. HOLY COW! Did we over do the vinegar just a tad? Wowza! These are some sour pickles. Are they all going to be like this? Relief washes over you as you realize you did them in two batches with a different recipe for each. Jars are going to quickly become available for the pantry cupboard at this rate. (A whole different post awaits about that!) There won't be lingering over the opening process going forward - if future jars are this sour, your compost pile will quickly be transformed. The disappoint rages, and you question your technique, your skill, but realize your success and canning don't always go hand in hand...the taste can only be as good as the recipe you used, and you were worried about this one from the get go. Oh, joy is fleeting, and you thank the Lord that you were blessed with the foresight to make refrigerator pickles, even if most of them are housed in the fridge at your husband's work, because fridge pickles use fridge space, of which yours is a precious commodity. Your confidence, however, is compromised, and you will now question on a yearly basis the desire and efforts to pickle cucumbers in a fashion which will be pleasing to self and others.

But, I digress. I must get supper on the table, and time is slipping by as I sit and ponder the wonders of the food preservation process. Canning may be slipping by the way as an art form, but I, for one, will continue to do my part in preserving the past...and preserving - for the future.
Until next time, when I may choose to exercise my vision of freezing foods for fun, not foolishly, but with fresh fervor...

Happy eating!
5 Responses
  1. Joyce Says:

    This was such a fun post, Sarah!

    You would be a good home-town newspaper writer, either for homemaking or comedy or both! :P

  2. Christine Says:

    Thank-you so much for posting this for me. I will not have to post it on my blog now since I just read it all over here! You and I are so much on the same page

    I am so with you that I to will hold on to my part in preserving the past and will hold on tightly to this almost lost art form. I taught my niece how to can jam this summer and it was truly a fun and wonderful day spent with her. I will be canning some more jams this winter with the fruit I put into the freezer that I just couldn't keep up with. I have never done green beans and will try those next summer...I might be bugging you for a recipe! lol Hugs and love your way.

  3. Melanie Says:

    It must be wonderful to be able to eat the fruits of your labors (even though they are a bit sour!) Have a great weekend.

  4. Amy Says:

    Hi friend.. I have to tell you a HUGE thankyou for your sweet and encouraging comment on my CF blog! Thankyou a gazillion times for that! Means so much!

    I bet these beans are heaven! I wish I lived near ya, and I would casually sneak one... he he.. ok maybe I wouldn't... BUT, I would see if I could swap ya something for it!
    Nothing like fresh, canned beans... oh man! Nothing!

    Hugs.. and loves.. Amy

  5. Bee Jay Says:

    I think its just great that after all your effort in getting the stuff canned, you can stand back and reflect - don't those jars just look marvellous? I'm looking forward to my half grown beans being ready to process however these babies are going to be frozen! LOL