Most of my posts so far have been ministry or Scripture related, but I thought it might be time to give you a little glimpse into something I have done this summer! Over the last couple of years, I have enjoyed getting to learn how to can fruits and vegetables. This is something that my MawMaw (my mom’s mother) did regularly to preserve the harvest from her huge garden!! (My husband’s favorite peas are the Zipper Creams that MawMaw used to can and give us when she came to visit. It was a sad day when we opened and ate the last jar she had given us!) In addition to canning things like green beans and peas, she made pickles, relishes, jams, jellies, and soup starters. The more I have learned about canning, the more I realize just how much work my MawMaw put into those jars of fruits and vegetables that we enjoyed! This summer marked 10 years since MawMaw went to Heaven, and I have thought about her a lot as I canned in my kitchen!
Typically, if you are going to can, you must have a garden to harvest! Our garden this year is pretty puny (see below). Actually, other than a few volunteer tomato plants (and one volunteer squash-type vine growing behind the garage), it’s non-existent! To be honest, I was a little discouraged every time I looked at it this summer! We have a large area set aside, fenced off, and even tilled, but we have not actually planted anything in it for the last two springs! We had great plans for that area when we bought our house three years ago and began to prepare it. We planted a few plants the first spring; but additional duties were added to my husband’s ministry schedule, and the garden became an afterthought. The next spring, we were still extremely busy; and planting season had come and gone before we really even thought about it! This year, we were pretty sure that we would be moving during the summer. We tilled the garden so that it would look neat when we showed our house to potential buyers, but we never planted. When the middle of summer arrived and the reality that we were not moving set in, we began to look at the garden again and to wish that we had planted at least a few plants so that we could have something to harvest.
Little did we know then that God had a few special blessings headed our way! A good friend of ours, who is an avid canner, called to offer us some of her green bean harvest (and the equipment to can them with) if we would come help her pick her over-filled rows! Our pastor and his wife had an abundance of tomatoes from their garden and brought the extras to church for anyone to take home. Another couple in the church brought us some cucumber, zucchini, peppers, and green beans from their garden. Our local Kroger store held a weekend sale of corn on the cob for $.10 an ear. Since we were out of town that weekend, the same special friend who gave us her green beans offered to pick up some for us and hold them until we returned home the next day. A couple of weeks later, that same friend thought to text me when she heard of a great sale on tart apples at a local orchard. Once again, she picked some up for me and held them until I could get out to her place to pay her and pick them up! (Yes, she is a blessing!! She’s also joyfully fielded lots of questions from me about canning. The summer harvest in my freezer and pantry is, in a very large way, a result of her kindness!) By the time all these blessings came in, I had a large box full of green beans, 1/2 of a 5 gallon bucket full of tomatoes, 70 ears of corn, several cucumbers, and 1/2 a bushel of apples to put up for future use! (Thankfully, it didn’t all come in at once! I’d have been overwhelmed!!) I canned most of the green beans, used the tomatoes and some of the peppers for slow-cooker salsa, made relish from the cucumbers, cut and froze the corn, and made apple butter. After all the work was done, this was my final count:
26 quarts – cut green beans
5 quarts + 9 pints – pickled green beans
1 gallon bag (freezer) – cut green beans
8 quart bags – corn
2 gallon bags (36 ears) – corn cobs (for making corn cob jelly)
3 pints – sweet relish
1 quart bag + 1 quart + 3 pints – salsa
3 quarts + 1 pint – apple butter
1 gallon bag – sliced apples
1 gallon bag – diced apples
1 gallon bag – apple juice concentrate (for making apple syrup)
We also enjoyed using some of the fresh veggies with our meals (Who can resist summer corn on the cob or a fresh tomato-cucumber salad?), and the kids snatched up some apples for after school snacks! Overall, it was a productive summer canning season. I am thankful that the Lord allowed me to see that desire fulfilled, even though it was not the way I would have planned it! How about you? Do you have special memories or blessings from this summer? I look forward to hearing them! In the mean time, here are some pictures from my canning experience!