I am a city girl. My mother did not can. My father’s family did, but they lived in Texas. Some even lived on farms back in the day, canning was a way of life. My husband’s mother and grandmother where caners and they canned everything!
A small story about my mom and doing anything “country”. My dad brought her home a pumpkin, it was not Halloween. She asked him, “what is that for?” He said, “for a fresh pumpkin pie, you have never had a pumpkin pie until you have had one made with a fresh pumpkin.” The next day as she stood at the sink cleaning out this pumpkin, her good friend stopped in. (Very common in our neighborhood, another story for another post.) Mrs. Mac asked her, “what are you doing with that pumpkin?” My mom told her what my dad wanted and asked her, “do you know how to make a fresh pumpkin pie?” She asked if mom had any canned pumpkin, she did. Mrs,. Mac took the pumpkin put it in a brown paper bag gave it to my brother and told him “take this bag down to the field and throw it in, leave it there.” She and mom whipped up a pumpkin pie with the canned pumpkin, sat down played their marble game and drank coffee. When my mom served the pie, my dad said, “now tell me this isn’t the best pumpkin pie you have ever eaten?” My mom heartily agreed.
Next story, a gentleman we know around here has a garden (big, more like farm in my humble opinion) and he is always passing out free fresh vegetables. His wife says he raises so much that the two of them could never eat it all. It is his hobby. Well I felt bad because he is much older than me and I offered to help him pick. He accepted my offer and I picked beans, lots and lots of beans. When I gave him the basket full, he said, “no you take those”. I could not possibly use all of these beans, what would I do with them? His wife had the answer, “can them.” I explained to her that I know nothing of canning, before I left, I had her pressure cooker (we call it a canner), her canning jars, and her Blue Ball canning book. “Easy she said, you just ..blah, blah, blah….., simple done”. I took it all home with the beans and a bushel of tomatoes. My husband and I canned. Not hard at all! We did the tomatoes in one day and the beans the next. The easiest way was what they call “a bath”. And fresh tomatoes canned are the bomb! I prefer frozen beans, husband likes canned ones, so we do both.
Now do we save money – yes!!! Even if we would have to buy jars (we have hers, husband’s mom’s and grandma’s) it would cost $10-$11 for 12 quart jars. If you have to buy fresh tomatoes -go to the farmer’s market and buy a bushel. Get the Ball book (costs $11, but will last for ever), or go to the library and check it out (free). Follow the instructions in the Ball book and you have fantastic tomatoes to add to dishes the whole winter through. Taste much better than bought, healthier, and most important, you will save money. You may even be tempted to cook more at home. I am blessed, because my husband likes to cook and works right along side me – but you may have to find a canning buddy – it can be fun. You don’t have to have a pressure cooker as long as all you do is the vegetable itself (in most cases) but if you add other things (like making stewed tomatoes) you would have to cook under pressure. A nice deep pan, a small cooling rack in the bottom (keep the jars lifted up) and a lid – 20 minutes later, you put them on a dish cloth to cool, listen to them pop, test them, store them. Easy – peasy.
This city girl can can and freeze fresh veggies! It is a big money saver – for instance, green peppers. We love green peppers in our cooking, but my goodness, they can run from $.50 each in the summer to $2 each in the winter. When we get some we slice them, lay them on a cookie sheet, freeze, then put in a zip lock freezer bag to use all year long. Works perfectly – no cooking, nothing, just slicing and freezing. They are also (usually) easy to grow. We find ourselves buying many things when in season and finding the best way to preserve them for winter, just like the settlers of yesteryear.