Wednesday, August 26, 2009

As if I Didn't Have Enough to Do

Do you can or freeze fruits and vegetables? I do, sometimes. It’s something Mama taught me. When I was a kid, she used to can and freeze stuff every summer. I have very vivid memories of picking peaches at Hubotter’s orchard and strawberries at the U-Pick fields. We always had a garden too, that yielded beans, onions, tomatoes and other vegetables. Mama would disrupt our summer laziness with announcements that peach season or tomato season was in and off we’d go, groaning and moaning, to gather and pick. I hated picking because it was usually hot and sticky, and I knew it was just the beginning of two or three days of cleaning, pealing and processing when there were bicycles to ride and little brothers to boss around. Mama would can vegetables in waves of hot steamy water and freeze fruits in plastic boxes destined for the deep freezer that sat in the garage. She had a tendency to get hung up on one particular item each year. There was the year we had strawberry freezer jam running out of our ears. That was great. The year she decided to make gallons of sour kraut was not so great. She made a lot of pickles, too. A LOT of pickles. More pickles than we could eat.

Along the way, I absorbed an education in food processing and storage. I guess it’s kind of in my genes since my grandpa farmed produce and sold it to folks. (Remind me sometime to tell you some of the stories about daddy stealing grandpa’s watermelons.) Even though I hated canning while growing up, I'm glad I can do it because it's becoming a lost art. Sometimes I can vegetables, and sometimes I make homemade jelly. It’s a time consuming process, and anyone who’s ever done it knows you can’t really do it on your own schedule. You have to do it when the produce is ripe and available. Which is what happened last weekend when I discovered that the grapevine in the backyard had produced the sweetest, best tasting Concord grapes we’ve had in a long time. For the last fifteen years, we’ve enjoyed those grapes. Some years they have been better than others, and the last two they’ve been pitiful. This year they’re wonderful, and since we are moving and this was likely the last chance I’ll have to enjoy these grapes, I decided to make jelly. In the middle of a lot of laundry and house cleaning and remodeling.

It took sterilized jars.

And hot boiling lids.

Turning the grapes into juice.

With cooking and straining.

And adding the sugar and pectin.

But in the end I ended up with the best tasting jelly I’ve ever made.

And not that I’m bragging, but doggone it, it was the prettiest jelly I’ve ever made too.

It was so pretty I saved a couple to enter in the county fair next June.
We have sixteen half pint souvenirs of our old home to take to the new home, so I’m glad I took the time to do it.

But now? I have to deal with these.


Mike Golch said...

the jelly looks good to me.

Kelley with Amy's Angels said...

My mother would love on you until the cows came home. She LOVES to can. Actually, she is head of the canning division at the county fair where she lives in Montana!!

The Church Lady said...

LOL. I just got done freezing 15 bags of corn. I have never done this before (see my post), so it was a learning process I got to share with my Mom (aka, Life According to Jan & Jer).

Your jelly looks yummy. I think it would go good on some scones. Good luck with the tomatoes!

karisma said...

Wow! You are so clever! We actually bought all the jars and a boiler last year and I still have not had a go at it! I have no idea what to do!

Susan DeAngelis said...

Your making me look bad! homemade preserves? lol