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Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Sweetness Of Summer...


Love is to the heart what the summer is to the farmer's year - it brings to harvest all the loveliest flowers of the soul.
~~~~~Author Unknown


It's been a whole year since I've done what Momma and us 5 sisters had to do every summer while growing up. Way back then I considered canning more of a chore. Now, I understand that the work we do in the good ole summertime means that we can savor those sweet flavors whilst the cold damp wind of the north blows.

Amazing at how once taught, the finer points of canning the bounty of summer vegetables never quite leave you. Sorta like riding a bike. Rusty maybe, but never forgotten entirely.

Last night the old back complained of the bent over position required to locate those little green beans hiding amongst the foliage. The sun shining thru the clouds baked my back side quite nicely too. If I had arms that were like Stretch Armstrong, I would have dabbed cold vinegar water on the sunburn. Alas, I'm not that flexible. A long hot scented bath was sufficient to relax and restore the aches from a extended day out in the garden. Many of the last few days frustrations didn't seem quite as important either.

Life does go on...As will I.


Here's my pictorial with instructions for making use of God's bounty and the sweet rewards gardening provides...



First, the garden must be planted and lovingly tended.
There's many a dusting done to prevent the bugs from enjoying the plants bounty more than yourself. You must attend many a 'Dancing with the hoe' to ensure the pesky weeds aren't allowed entrance.





After the tender baby beans gain enough weight to be slightly plump, the back bends to their height, and the hunt is on. They are so very adept at hiding in plain sight. Or as Momma would say, "if it had been a snake, it would have bit you..."






Now comes the fun part. Thankfully, I planted the 'stringless' variety of green beans. Momma can have those ole white half runners. Gently or savagely, depends upon the mood, the stem and tip are removed. Each one broken at least once. Washed several times to remove the pesky bugs and spent flower heads.



Those clean empty jars must be hand packed with those now broken bits of goodness. I can guarentee the beans don't jump right in there all by themselves...
A spoon of coarse Kosher salt sprinkled over the top, and boiling hot water poured to within 1/2 inch of the rim.


Not forgetting to let the flats soak a few minutes in boiling hot water to soften up the rubber seal. Each bright flat is placed on jar top, and metal ring screwed down loosely.
Yes, loosely. Those babies need to come off the jars after the cooling down period.





Verify the rubber ring inside the lid is fit for purpose. Water is added to the midway point of the pressure canner. Amid much twisting, cussing and finally success, the lid is married to the bottom...
Flame or heat is applied to bring the spitting spout of steam out the tiny hole in center of lid. Once fully engaged, jiggler is placed over that tiny hole. Relax for 20min

I'm not sure who designed modern stoves, but I would hazard a guess that they have never canned anything in their lifetime... Never enough space behind the rear large burner, not to mention the canner is never centered atop the burner itself.

After relaxing for 20 minutes, flame or heat source is extinguished. Do not attempt any moves for at least 4hrs. Once cool, jiggler may be removed and lid twisted, or man handled again from the main body. Inside you will find 7 lovely jars of summer goodness to be placed in root cellar or basement. It's your choosing as to the coolest part of your house. In my earlier years, I've seen hundreds of jars stored under the beds. Back then the bedrooms were far removed from the main heat source. But this is now...
Wait a few months, choose the most blustery, coldest, snowiest day to pull out one or several of those jars. Add some hamhock, onion and pepper. Cook over low heat for several hours. Viola! Instant summer in a jar....


In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy.
~William Blake
And so it goes......

3 comments:

Earl said...

My Grandmother canned seriously, my mother canned generously and my sisters still can a bit lovingly - and one niece still cans a bit - righteously. And I, from the time I was just in the way, loved going to the cellar to get the canned goods for my grandmother's dinner - most responsibly.

Grandma Faith said...

This blog sounded like poetry to me. I never learned the art of canning. I have always lived in town. Now that my parents have retired to the farm, my mother, at 81 years, has gone back to her roots. You should see the sparkle in her eyes when she shows me the vegetables she has canned. She is like a young girl again. Sweet nostalgia!

Ky Woman said...

Earl,
Sounds like you got the best part of the deal...

Faith,
Thank you! You could have your Mother teach you the joys of canning...
I can only imagine the sparkle in her eyes. You do have this great sense of accomplishment when surveying the end results. Fun times...