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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Nature's Bounty

The Ball Blue Book, the Guide to Home Canning and Freezing has been a staple in kitchens since 1907. I grew up with this book, as I love to "put up" food for the winter. This is probably my third copy, as I wore the first two out!

The Illinois four-square farmhouses I remember from my childhood, whether the homes of aunts or neighbors, had huge basements. Lining the walls were wooden shelves filled with neat, tidy rows of preserved food. My sisters and I helped can peaches, green beans, beets and tomatoes. We made jams and jellies, all kinds of pickles and also froze sweet corn and strawberries. Because my father was German, he made and put up sauerkraut too.

Canning and freezing are very labor intensive. Whenever we girls would fuss and complain, our father would say, "these will taste good when the snow flies."

Those of us whose parents lived through the Great Depression watched them "Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without." I like to think my parents' frugality was passed on to my sisters and me. In the midst of conspicuous consumption, it is a gift and a noble thing.

Our garden is smaller this year, with just grape, Roma and good old-fashioned red tomato varieties. We're enjoying the bounty while we can, as summer ebbs.


joyce said...

My MIL was a great canner. My kids used to love it when she'd say "Go down in the cellar and get a jar of fruit and a jar of pickles for supper". There were always dozens of differnt ones to chose from. I do some but not nearly as much as she did and even less now that there are only the two of us here.

Karen said...

I'm so jealous of your green thumb. I think we've gotten 6 tomatoes this year.

Patty Cramer said...

Hey Girl,

You forgot the favorite story of you and Sharon fussing over canning and freezing vegetables. Do you remember marking the freezer containers with "hand packed by experts"? Those were the days.

Life on the farm were the best years and memories of my life. Today our Illinois farm is about 1/2 mile from growing houses.

Love you Sister!