Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Canning, and other old-fashioned ideas
Yesterday I canned tomato soup. I was nearly strong-armed into it by the volumes of produce hanging from my, yes, 24 tomato plants. Hindsight and all that. Anyway, 20 pounds of tomatoes later, I had to do something. Soup sounded good for dinner, so I started peeling tomatoes and filling this lovely Martha Stewart stew pot I purchased with a gift card this spring. To be honest, I've rarely used it, though I did buy it during springtime in Kansas when the weather bottoms out at 50º — hardly soup weather, in my opinion. I was a bit surprised when the pot completely filled with tomatoes. Sigh. I'd have to can this stuff or we'd be eating it three meals a day.
I bought my canning supplies in Colorado. After a particularly lush fall, my then-neighbor, Floyd, filled 30-gallon buckets with apples from his tree and hoisted two over the fence into our yard. One bucket o' romas and one of grannies. I felt so lucky. Two long days of hand-peeling later, I shared jellies, apple butter and apple sauce around the office like a mini Martha, beaming with pride. This autumnal apple spree became a tradition until the year we moved away, also the year Floyd chopped down his apple trees because they were too much work. Luckily, we moved in July so I wasn't around to mourn their absence come fall.
Well, tomato soup didn't take as long. Peeling aside, things mostly sputtered alone on the stove with an occasional stirring. And the canning wasn't a horrible pain, even though I lost the pot's insert (what the cans sit on inside their water bath) during our move. Still, I couldn't help feeling a bit of old-fashioned pride to see the cans on the countertop this morning. I've planned a bit of onion-tomato jam for Thursday's project, once the lawn mowing is done.
Between my knitting and gardening and biking with a basket and sewing and trail walking and my newly-polished canning skills, I feel like the average 72-year-old would love to be my friend. Now if I could just find more free 30-gallon buckets of apples.