Preserving the Seasons’ Best with Granny

I have such fond memories of my Granny’s kitchen. She could fry up a pork chop like no one else, and would bake a bubbling blackberry cobbler from the fruit we picked together out back. She always had a stash of Coca-Cola bottles in a wooden crate on the floor.

Granny
Granny at the Lane Family Reunion, 1964

We didn’t get “Co-Cola” at home, and Granny would gladly pour one over a glass of ice that she chipped by hand. But the best memory I have is of my Granny’s pantry and the rows of Mason jars, filled with handmade treats such as Bread and Butter Pickles, Fig Preserves, and Stewed Tomatoes. She would spend days every summer putting up from the garden that she toiled over with Granddaddy. And we ate like royalty, all winter long!

would gladly pour one over a glass of ice that she chipped by hand. But the best memory I have is of my Granny’s pantry and the rows of Mason jars, filled with handmade treats such as Bread and Butter Pickles, Fig Preserves, and Stewed Tomatoes. She would spend days every summer putting up from the garden that she toiled over with Granddaddy. And we ate like royalty, all winter long!

I’m sure I’m not the only one with these kinds of memories. Our mothers and grandmothers knew what they were doing in many ways, and preserving these foods at their peak of flavor is just one more example. Like many of us “younger” folks, it’s not something I learned how to do but I’m ready to learn now. I will be arming myself with the tools and knowledge I’ll need to follow in Granny’s footsteps.

Whether I decide to put up jams, jellies, pickles, relish or chutney, home canning is a good way to make the most of fresh, seasonal produce and stretch my food budget. In these economic times, this will be very beneficial, not to mention much tastier and far more natural than anything I could buy at the supermarket. I don’t have my own garden, but I do have access to many of Atlanta’s outstanding farmers markets as well as a number of friends with over-productive tomato and cucumber plants.

Granny is no longer here to teach me, but I have found that there are lots of resources. I’ve learned that I’ll need just a few simple tools along with a little know-how and some recipes.

  • I have found numerous books on canning:
    • Putting Up: A Year Round Guide to Canning in the Southern Tradition by Steve Dowdney. It is jam packed with everything a home canner needs to know from equipment to science to recipes.

      Preserving by the Pint
      “Preserving by the Pint”, Marisa McClellan
    • Any of Marisa McClennan’s titles:  Food in Jars (Running Press 2012)Preserving by the Pint (Running Press 2014), and Naturally Sweet Food in Jars (Running Press 2016). These books are indispensable for any home canner.
    • Put ’em Up or Put ’em Up Fruit by Sherri Brooks Vinton.  These books go beyond canning and also show you ways to ferment, freeze and dry food to preserve them.
  • If you are like me, you learn best by doing. Find a canning class in your area – they can typically be found at a local cooking school, county extension service, or farming co-op.   (yes, I still take cooking classes – you never stop learning!).
  • Most of what you’ll need can probably be found in your kitchen, but you will also need a few specialty items. Fortunately, these are not usually a large investment. Stop in a local kitchen supplyshop, hardware store, or even the supermarket or mega-store.

There are many resources out there that will have you up to speed, canning and preserving your own food in no time. Join me….it’ll be a fun, nostalgic and delicious adventure! Our grandmothers would be proud!

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s