I have dear friends who share their fresh produce from their garden with me. I am so grateful because I am inept at growing vegetables. I do all right with herbs and flowers, but I haven’t produced a tomato in ten years. It’s probably due to the fact that my yard is almost completely shaded by huge trees. Yeah. That’s right. I’ll blame it on the trees!
At any rate, today I’m making bread and butter pickles. I haven’t canned since we moved in this house over 12 years ago, so this is quite an undertaking. (I might wuss out and just keep them chilled in the refrigerator; we’ll see how ambitious I turn out to be.)
I always loved canning when I was younger. It was one time my mother and I worked together without butting heads. I especially loved freezing corn because there were so many steps to that vegetable. It turned out to be an all-day process by the time we shucked the corn, blanched it, chilled it, cut it off the cob and finally filled freezing containers with the kernels.
My mother never made any kind of pickles except for bread and butter pickles. I liked the pickles Mrs. Johnson, my best girlfriend’s mother, made. She trained me on the process of jarred dill pickles and also crock sweet pickles. Another neighbor taught me how to make watermelon pickles. I thought any pickle was worth my time and talent because I loved them all.
Canning somehow makes me feel more in touch with my food. I carried on the tradition when I had my children living with me, but when they grew up, it seemed senseless to can for two people. There’s a part of me that misses the process and the freshness of canning. I miss the sweet smells and seeing the bright colors in Mason and Kerr Jars lining the cupboard. The pretty pictures on store-bought veggies can’t compare.
What I don’t miss is the mess and sweating over hot kettles in the summer time. Menopause brings its own flashes of heat now, so I guess I’ll just remember my canning days when one of those self-made heatwaves comes along!