Sunday, September 07, 2008

Canning, Redux

Yesterday was the day of the peaches.



20 pounds of tomatoes cooked down into 6 quarts of tomato sauce-y goodness.

An afternoon's work for 6 family meals worth of pasta.

I think it's a fair trade off.

Last year, I couldn't do much of anything in the kitchen because I turned my ankle on my front stoop and broke a bone in my foot. That led to 10 weeks on crutches. It's hard to cook when you need to sit with your foot elevated or be non-weight bearing on crutches.

Growing up, I didn't really learn to cook, bake bread, or can. Through college and graduate school, different roommates taught me different things, though I don't remember who first canned with me. It seemed vaguely mysterious and arcane, certainly something from another generation. But once I learned how to do it, I realized that this 'dying art' was never really dying. Even in suburban Boston, folks can. I know this because our neighborhood Super Stop and Shop carries canning supplies. If there was no demand for jars, lids, and bands, the store wouldn't waste the shelf space on them.

So today, 6 jars of the deep red juice of summer's essence will join the jars of sliced peaches on my pantry shelf. It's a crazy, stupid amount of work, especially when I can shop at Whole Foods and buy someone else's organic tomato sauce. But it's not nearly as good.

The truth is, when I open a jar of sauce, I will remember chunking tomatoes, my husband running the food mill, filling jars with seasoned tomato puree. I will remember today.


  1. There are five quarts of sliced peaches in our freezer. Every summer we take my nieces and nephews peach picking. I had about 20 pounds of hand-picked, tree-ripe peaches. It helps to survive the winter, to remember that.

    Do you include cooking in your writing?

  2. Yes, it does, Sue. I hate to see the summer end. :) I used foods to differentiate two cultures in my most recent WIP, but that was the only time I've done that. I do love to cook and love to write, so maybe some collab between the two sometime.