This story stretches the memory a little. To talk about Mom's canning efforts, one must go back to the war years. Effort was made in many areas to conserve. Rationing was a way of life.
To help out, most families cultivated a victory garden plot of varying sizes and complexities, according to their needs. Our garden was out the back door and down the porch steps, (pre-patio), past the cistern and stretched all the way to the back alley. There were actually two plots separated by a pathway. The East plot also had a cherry tree and an asparagus patch.
The ground was turned over by hand each spring and the rich soil laid out in various rows. Earlier crops such as radishes, carrots and onions were planted nearer the house and on back came the peas, green beans and tomatoes. The asparagus patch off by itself was an annual which seemed to need little tending.
The summer progressed and the chore of keeping the weeds under control seemed an endless task. The whole family took part in the care of the garden. We had a hand pushed cultivator which would loosen the weeds between the rows. The pulled weeds ended up in the lower lot to await burning.
As the harvest ripened, many vegetables were brought right on into the kitchen to be prepared for the daily menu. Not all was consumed in this manner.
There was much more available, that at certain times became the produce to be canned. I remember in particular the green beans, peas, tomatoes, cherries, apples, plums and grapes.
When the time was ready, Mom would announce the great harvest, probably with the words, "Go, bring in all the beans or tomatoes or grapes, etc."
I have memories of good times, sitting on the back steps, snapping the beans to the proper size.
Mom would get out the quart jars, lids, and seals. These would be filled with water, turned upside down in a large pot of boiling water and left until all the water was boiled out. I guess the air in the boiling water became trapped in the jar to create this effect. Meanwhile she would be preparing the contents. The vegetables were just brought to a boil, (you have to be a canner to understand this process). The fruit was cooked, run through a colander, combined with pectin and sugar. I recall that the grapes were among the messiest to process. Then the cooked product was ladled into each jar, the seal screwed on with the lid. The jars were left to cool to the touch, labeled with contents and date, and moved to their place on the shelves in the cellar.
One of the special treats was being asked to go to the cellar on a cold winter morning to get a new jar of jelly or jam. My favorite was the cherry preserves. I recall that Mom used recycled Peter Pan peanut butter jars. You may have experienced some of these, used as the drinking glasses, kept in the white cupboard. To seal these jars a layer of paraffin was poured on top and the snap-on lid carefully replaced. Nothing like cherry preserves on toast to top off the morning breakfast.
With the war years behind us, the garden didn't maintain it's urgency, but there was always something planted each year to enjoy.
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