A few years ago, after I had bought my farm and planted my first big garden, I found myself up to my neck with more vegetables and tomatoes than I could give away or consume.
As if gardening wasn’t enough work, my mother asked plainly one day “Why don’t you learn to can your extra food and then you’ll have it for later.” Which translated into “Why don’t you spend your weekends slaving over a hot stove in a balmy, five-hundred degree hell kitchen instead of enjoying the outdoors…”
I received a Presto pressure canner that following Christmas. Now I spend a few weekends (and weeknights) in late Summer listening to my pressure canner hissing and steaming, turning my kitchen into a sauna. My favorite thing to can is Soup… Convenience food!
Sometimes, when I start to get fed up with the heat from canning (and the jars and the mess), I remind myself of the “Ant and the Grasshopper” story I read as a kid. You know the one – where the grasshopper is a major lazy-ass all summer and constantly laughs at the ant for working hard and not relaxing because he wanted to put up food and firewood for the coming winter?
So later in the story as winter sets in, the grasshopper finds himself freezing with nothing put away for the winter and then has to go on government assistance and live in the local shelter so he doesn’t starve or freeze to death. No wait. That really didn’t happen. I think the grasshopper died? I can’t remember… But I do remember that I wanted the damn grasshopper to die because he laughed at the notion of the importance of being prepared.
Anyway. So now I’m a “canner.” Not an obsessed, be-damned-if-you-don’t-can- everything kind of canner, but just a canner. And only if it’s a tested recipe. Because botulism sounds about as much fun as getting married.
And I’ve found that I really enjoy canning. It makes my kitchen smell amazing and reminds me of my grandma. And the hissing and bubbling of the canner is relaxing to me in a weird sort of way. Plus it’s just plain smart to process my own food and stock my shelves and make less trips to the grocery store. And then there’s that whole zombie thing to think about too, don’t forget… ~A