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Posts Tagged ‘Cherries’

Today we are canning cherries. It’s actually my first time canning cherries, though I remember eating my mother’s canned cherries as a child. The sweet taste of cherry bursting in my mouth on a cold winter’s day… the beautiful color of the ripe red cherries in the jar. A feast for the eyes as well as the taste buds. After all these years, those cherries which long ago nourished my body, now nourish my soul as I remember…

A flood of memories wash over me whenever I get out my water bath canner or my pressure canner. I remember canning with my mother and my grandma. I remember the year that I helped with the tomatoes on the morning of my first prom. I think I did get most of the red stain off of my fingers before the dance that night, though my fingernails retained an light orange hue.

I remember shelling peas with my grandma…that was her favorite. She loved fresh shelled peas. I remember going to Grandma’s to “help” her snap and can some green beans a few months before my wedding. She purchased all of the beans, lids, and jars and then insisted that I take half of the finished jars for my new home. She not only made sure that I had some food storage on my shelves as a newly married wife, but by teaching me the processes of canning, she has helped me to nourish my family years after she has passed on.

I remember those beautiful green jars full of beans on the pantry shelf in our first apartment. Well…I guess it was really a linen closet, but there was no room for them on the kitchen shelves in our tiny kitchen. In retrospect, that’s where I remember my mother keeping her canned goods as well…in the linen closet.

Looking back, I realize that my mother and my Grandmother had planned that summer of canning before my marriage particularly to make sure that I had canned goods to fill my shelves after my upcoming marriage. I also remember how I was “too busy” to help can the apple pie filling. My mother was so frustrated with me…something I didn’t understand then. I had thought that they had plenty of help that day…and I had fun things planned with my fiance. I also remember that I did not have apple pie filling on my pantry shelves that fall. Another lesson taught…Little Red Hen style. But it makes me smile all the same.

I remember Grandma coming to my home to help me can the peaches that were falling on the ground from the tree in the front yard the first Summer after I was married. It was the first rented home that we lived in that wasn’t an apartment…one with a yard that was our own and a nice big kitchen. In my memories of that day, I can almost still feel the cool linoleum under my bare feet and feel the air from the gently whirring fan that we had going. This was late summer in Utah and I don’t remember that we had an air conditioner. I can almost see my grandma sitting at my kitchen table as we prepared the peaches for the canner.  Oh how I miss her!

Was that the year that she have me her dented old canning funnel? …or did she give that to me the previous year when we canned those beans? I remember that funnel for years ever after. I love that old dented piece of aluminum! I use it every time that I bottle fruit or vegetables for my family. I wonder how many members in my family (my own and my Grandmother”s) it has helped to nourish over the years? The joy that I get from using this dented old piece of aluminum reminds me that it is the simple things in life which ultimately bring the greatest joy.

I remember canning for my little family. Keeping my little ones entertained while I bottled the fruit that we would share in the cold winter months. Mostly peaches and pears…I liked to put a cinnamon stick and some red coloring into the pears to make cinnamon pears. The color was so pretty and the children liked them. I remember the tangy smell of sweet applesauce on the stove on a cool fall day…perfect on a slice of fresh warm bread!

I remember the first years after we moved to a rented home with some land around it…how tickled I had been at the blackberries which grew wild around the place. We did plenty of jam those years.

I remember the year that Grandma and Grandpa and Mom and Dad brought peaches to my Washington home from Utah…7 or 8 boxes. We worked in my brand new little kitchen…our first home that wasn’t rented…our own home. We all worked together and soon had every peach in a jar. It was a big yield that year, I think we got 14 quarts to the box. I think that there are few things as beautiful as a row of freshly canned jars of peaches…still warm from the canner, with all of the lids merrily popping out their little musical “pings” at intervals! What a happy sound!

I remember the year that I was 7 months pregnant with my fourth child when it was time to can the fruit. I canned 14 boxes of fruit in two days…seven boxes each of peaches and pears. I got up in the cool of the morning long before the children and got a system going…I’m good at that. I think I had 3 or 4 canner loads done before I had to make room to prepare breakfast for my little crew. I worked ahead and took breaks to read to my little crew in between batches of peaches which needed peeling. I canned late into the evening. My husband helped when he got home from work. And then we sat afterward to gaze at the table full of beautiful jars as we listened to them ping out their merry little songs.

I did tomatoes that year too. Later the following spring, I remember feeding those canned fruits to my baby as her first foods…peaches and pears which outdated her birth. Just one among many things which were prepared for her in our home before she was born.

I remember the years as my children got older and started to be of some real help with the canning. My favorite was green beans. They would ripen in the garden a canner load at a time. A nice easy pace. Every few days we would pick, snap, and can a canner load full of beans. The jars on the kitchen counter grew larger as the weeks went by. I remember how I would sit on the back porch with my little brood of children…my own little quiver full…and together we would snap them into shiny stainless steel bowls; the littlest one with his toddler fingers clumsily breaking the stems of the beans…often with half of the bean still on the stems. This was something that even the youngest could do without too much trouble…I just had to watch for the occasional stem which got tossed into the wrong bowl and rescue the longer pieces of bean that got left on the stems. What sweet summers those were!

Today, we are canning cherries…but in my mind and heart, we are canning so much more than just cherries.

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