Joining The Ranks of Prairie Canning Women

In the rural area we live it seems at times like we are a generation or two behind in many aspects of life. It creates a simpler, slower paced life. I attribute it to the remote location combined with the area being settled just one hundred years ago. People are more connected to old traditions and the way things used to be. They are not early adopters nor do they accept change very easily. At times this can be frustrating. 
I love pop culture, brands, the world of marketing and technology. I am an early adopter and change could be my middle name.  At the same time, I have learned to love the balance our rural prairie life brings.

One late summer activity that it seems every woman in our farming community does or has done before is can fruits and vegetables. Yes, canning, an old prairie practice that was needed for survival through the harsh winter months so families wouldn’t starve to death is still an every day summer happening in these parts. It is not just the older generation of women that can. It is all prairie dwelling women and they are no longer doing it for survival but instead because it the tradition of what you do each summer. These women can peaches and pears, make homemade applesauce and can it. They pick and can green beans along with salsa and tomato sauce from the tomatoes in their garden. Then there is pickling of just about any and all green vegetables. Our lovely daycare provider, Lori, inspired me with her canning last year as I watched the jars on her counter each morning increase in number. I promised myself this summer I would learn to can. Then last fall our (cleaning) princess Dianna brought me some of her prized canned items including the most delicious cinnamon applesauce and I was further inspired. Plus my kids have loved every canned gift we have received and my husband has fond memories of his mom canning.

My Grandma Nola and my mom both have pickled and canned in the past and my grandma still supplies us with our annual supply of jellies and jams. But of course similar to sewing, I never actually paid much attention to their canning, freezing or jelly making as a child.
But that is about to change. 
Over the next few weeks I am going to embark on a canning adventure. My reason for doing it is not because I have time for it. I sleep less than I have ever before and my laundry is never done. But the reasons I will do it include that I know my family will use the items and fully appreciate and enjoy them. Plus I will spend time with my grandma and mother in law having them teach me their secrets. Then I have friends who have offered to help teach me their tricks of the trade. The truth is, I just hate being left out of the canning circle so I might as well join it. I started searching Twitter for canning tips and found their is quite a canning cult out there who offer all sorts of tips and advice. I don’t plan to join a canning cult but I do plan to take advantage of their time saving tips.
What have done so far to prepare myself for my canning adventure?
I have only ordered 1 bushel of pickling cucumbers from our local hutterite colony which deliver each Tuesday to a local lady’s garage. I browsed Amazon for supplies but think between my mother-in-law and my grandma they might have what I need and be willing to lend this newbie a water bath kettle. My local grocery store (the one and only) sells the jars and picking spices & seasons I will need.
One thing is for sure I plan to use this in my tomato sauce:
The two plants behind the mint are basil and they are growing like trees on my deck. I have more basil then I will ever use in my favorite caprese salad. The only reason I grew basil this year was to enjoy caprese salad. But since I have a bumper basil crop I think it can be used in my canning adventure. 
Any canners out there?
What should I can? Willing to share a great pickle recipe? All insight & advice welcome.
Oh and if you want to learn to can like me…I will of course blog about it and then next summer you can come visit me on the prairie and we can together. 
(Grandma, this would be a great moment for you to leave your first ever blog comment! I will come visit you regardless this weekend to soak up your canning expertise.)

Comments

  1. Let the canning begin! Call me and we can learn the tips and tricks together. I too want the thrill a home-canned jar of pickles, fruit, etc. brings!

  2. I have been wanting to try canning for a couple of years now, but have yet to try it! I’ll probably begin with blackberry or strawberry jam and maybe some tomato sauce:)

  3. Anonymous says:

    Katie – besure you look into using your dish washer for canning tomatoes. I hear it is awesome and so quick! Marilyn L

  4. I’ve hopped on the canning bus. I canned 35 jars of apple sauce last year.

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