Canning Season

August 30, 2015 at 8:15 am (Memoir) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Harvest is upon us. It is canning season. I have not canned in a long time.

Growing up, I helped my mother can & freeze & store our harvest every late summer and into September. This was the food that would sustain us all winter when the garden was finished with. This is how we survived.

Garden

I do not garden now. In fact, I hate gardening, and all the other outdoor maintenance involved with having a lawn and flower beds, with an unbridled passion. I remember the hard work, the bugs, the sore muscles and the dirt forever under my fingernails. These are not pleasant memories.

However, I do like the harvest. I will haunt farmer’s markets for outdoor produce to enjoy in the moment but I do not can or freeze even though I do remember how much better garden produce tastes. The problem I have with canning is that we were not allowed to enjoy the produce in the present when I was growing up – things had to be stored up for WINTER. Everything, it seemed, was always saved to be enjoyed later.

My father (absent) would take my two older sisters with him to B. C. to pick fruit and they would bring back cases of cherries, pears and peaches that would have to be canned RIGHT NOW!

The peas would need to be frozen as soon as they were ripe.

The potatoes were dug and sent straight down to the cold room.

Glenlivet_Raspberries

We picked pails of raspberries to be frozen. This was my favourite harvest chore because I could hide in the raspberry canes and eat and pick. I always felt I got enough raspberries for both me and the freezer.

We headed out to the bush to pick gooseberries and other fruit.

I didn’t mind that all the rhubarb got frozen – it was too sour no matter how you prepared it.

But I wanted to eat my fill of peas straight off the vine. I wanted to eat too much butter dripped fresh corn. I wanted to gorge myself on fruit until I burst.

I wanted.

I got what I needed. I got enough to eat, all year, because my mother is a gardener and an ant. I did not inherit the gardening gene. I will cook and clean and can but still I feel guilty every time my mom or sister commiserate about their gardens.

My sister canned peaches, tomatoes and cucumbers last weekend. They were all lined up, pints and quarts, beside her stove. I should have taken a picture. The jars were bright and full of shining red, green and yellow goodness.

Why is it I always see what I can not do instead of what I can? Next year, I plan to purchase a farm fresh box so that I will get both the benefit of good food and the chance to help local gardeners do what they love to do (and I do not).

I need to find that fine line between want and need. I want to be able to enjoy fresh food all year long. I want to stop feeling guilty over doing what I like to do instead of doing what everyone else thinks I should do!

I hope everyone has the harvest they enjoy this Lammas season.

Stirling Castle_Kitchen

This weekend is the 10 year anniversary of Katrina. This is the best book that I have ever read on the subject.

I’ve never been to New Orleans. I hope one day to visit.

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