Friday, May 30, 2008

canning beans

Well, I canned my first jar of green beans yesterday, and I have to say I am pleased. I had such a "huge" amount (1 pint) that I almost didn't bother with it. But I knew that I would be canning them in small batches this summer since I really don't have a whole lot planted.

It was amazingly satisfying to to fill that jar. I am doing something good for my family. I am saving money. And I am having fun doing it. Granted, it seems like a lot of work just for 1 jar of beans, but that jar represents a little bit of freedom to me. Freedom from the need to have a store close by. Freedom from the need for a 9-to-5 stress machine where you slowly convert your life to stuff. Freedom to

Now that little jar wasn't the only thing I canned yesterday. I had made a big pot of pinto beans the night before, knowing that we could not possibly eat that many. So I also canned 5 pints of pinto beans. But since the pintos had ham broth in them, I had to pressure them separately from the jar of green beans. The green beans were processed for 20 minutes but the pintos had to cook for an hour and a half.

It is almost an ache with me to can food this year. I will be hitting up the farmer's markets and roadside stands for everything I can find. For some odd reason, I want purple hull peas. Lots of them. I can already see myself shelling a bushel of peas while I watch TV and then spending the rest of the afternoon canning them. Every time a lid pops, it makes me smile. It is strange, but it just makes me happy.

When I told my mother that I was going to start canning, she was just sort of shocked. She thought that with as much as I complained about having to do it as a kid, that I would never, ever want to look at another canning jar again. But I guess that is just the nature of kids. If you HAVE to do it, it sucks. If you want to do it, it is a joy. I guess age does have it's advantages. You can look back at everything you learned despite yourself and say,"Wow, I am glad I had those experiences."

I think teaching my kids these things will be a waste of time though. Times have changed too much for it to interest them at all. And I guess I have started a little late in their lives for it to be anything but a novelty. They really don't understand about a 30 minute drive just to get to town. Stores and groceries are just a couple of blocks for them. My daughter did get me a pressure canner for Christmas, but that was only because she knew I wanted one. I don't think she actually expected me to want to use it enough to wear it out. My son doesn't care about where food comes from as long as there is something to eat whenever he happens to be hungry, which is just about all the time.

All I can hope is that, at some point in their lives, they realize that Mom wasn't crazy and that growing and canning food is a good thing. A way to touch the family roots, so to speak. A family tradition that goes back to the dawn of time. And that store-bought doesn't always mean better.

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