Jars and lids ready to be sterilized.
All planned activity went by the wayside today when my DH decided we needed to make strawberry jam. We'd frozen lots of the fruit last year - still uneaten. Jam seemed the logical solution.
Plans went awry when we couldn't find enough jars. Earlier this year I'd gone on a rampage giving tons of things to our church for a yard sale. Among the plunder - most of our canning jars. We also couldn't find our ancient waterbath canner or our largest stainless steel pan - the one almost too big for any burner on our stove. Also lost, our jar lifter - essential when dealing with boiling hot liquids!
We finally found enough jars and made do with a large LeCreuset pan for the strawberries. It proved a little small when the jam came to a boil, but we caught it just in time. We ended up using the bottoms of a 35 year old pressure canner and an equally old Charleston rice cooker for the waterbath.
When I was a kid, it was very typical for midwestern farm families to have a canning set-up in their basements - with at least a sink and a stove. We also had a refrigerator and two chest freezers.
My parents canned and froze produce from their huge garden all summer for as long as I can remember, giving our family of six enough food to last through the winter and into the spring. Seeing the long shelves where Ball jars full of colorful peaches, green beans, tomatoes, beets, pickles and many other foods were stored is still one of my favorite childhood memories.