Hot, sweaty days in the kitchen.
I did it as a young woman once or twice and then never again. It was too much work. Plus my mother HAD to can in order to keep us fed, and for me that carried a stigma into adulthood that resulted in me purchasing a lot of commercially processed goods that would have been nutritionally better for us if they'd been homemade.
Well, I never thought I'd be so much my mother's daughter, but I'm coming full circle on this issue.
I caught the canning bug last year when making peach jam from a box of peaches my in-laws gave us.
Right after that I froze umpteen hundred gallon bags of corn from several boxes of freshly-picked ears of corn that my in-laws gave us (Uncle Ralph had a bumper crop).
And with those two days in the kitchen, I was hooked. So this year I planned it all out. There would be Peaches. There would be Apples (this time, our own!). And there would be frozen corn on the cob.
The sheer goodness of the nutritional value of this annual exercise is primary for us, because our health demands it and because I am now a "locavore" (well, as much as possible). I know there are no chemicals or unwanted preservatives in my canned product, I know how lovingly it was made, and I know how thoroughly it was processed.
Then there is that feeling of security that you get from rows of stored healthy food on the pantry shelves -- not to mention the pretty display that the jars make.
Then there is the nostalgia of the whole thing -- because my mother, my grandmother and all my great-aunts (and their mothers/grandmothers/great-aunts) canned and preserved the harvest every year. We were a farming family for many generations, after all.
Along the way this year I had the pleasure of teaching some friends to can, and next year we're planning a canning party with all of us together. (Might have to borrow the church kitchen for that one!).
The total product so far has come to:
12 quarts of apple pie filling
15 quarts of apple sauce
10 quarts of peach butter
50 frozen ears of corn on the cob
And one addition that I made just today:
5 1/2 pints of lemon sage honey mustard.
That's right -- homemade mustard.
I hate mustard.
Really, I do.
But this stuff is gorgeous and delicious, and I may never buy commercially processed mustard again. I'm envisioning baked ham this winter, cloaked in a coating of this lovely mustard.
Next up I'm trying some cranberry mustard, which folds brown sugar into its goodness.
Life is bountiful,