My parents put out a rather large garden every year…have for as long as I can recall. Since I’ve been married, I’ve helped in various ways and been able to keep some of the bounty. Since we’ve added kiddos to the mix, I’ve gotten more involved. Last year I canned 55 quarts of homemade spaghetti sauce. I froze about 45 quarts of green beans and also canned 35 quarts of peaches. These foods have nourished our family as the fall turned into winter, and winter turned to spring. Our shelves are emptying and summer harvest is upon us again.
There’s something about sitting at our kitchen table snipping beans that grounds me. Maybe it’s the monotony of it, the mindless work…maybe it’s that it was a chore I had as a teenager and it takes me back. It’s the feel of the beans between my fingers, the scent of them. And then it’s the practice of canning them. I use a pressure cooker, purchased for me by my parents because my mom got tired of me using hers all of the time. The preparing of the jars and the lids, then filling the jars and wiping the rims and tightening the lids and dropping them into the pressure cooker. It’s watching the pressure rise, and the loooong wait for it to release before taking the jars out… and then it’s the sweet, sweet sound of the lids sealing. Pop. Pop. Pop. Until all 7 are sealed.
There is a deep satisfaction for me, looking at the rows of beans, peaches, spaghetti sauce…knowing that’s work that I’ve done, a way that I am providing nutrition for our family. I want to add pears to the mix this year, and salsa, and red beets. I don’t know for sure if that will happen, but I hope it does.
I love this legacy my mother has passed onto me. We joke that it will soon be my turn to learn the bread making process and the pie making process…both of which FREAK. ME. OUT. We’re baby-stepping it but we’ll make it, I believe. My oldest daughter has been asking when she can help. She’s almost 12 now, and just spent an entire afternoon snipping beans at our kitchen table. I wonder if, when she’s 36, she’ll still relish the feel of the beans and the satisfaction of a job well done.