In my imagination, I would have a well stocked larder like this:

But in my reality a day of canning went like this: After getting the baby down for his morning nap at 9 a.m., I went out to pick apples. With muchísimo help from my 7 and 3 year olds who think they can operate the apple picker I haul a five gallon bucket inside. Now, my original goal was to can 56 quarts of applesauce, because then we could have a quart a week, and since my mother-in-law’s canner holds 7 quarts, I wanted to do multiples of 7. I figured a five gallon bucket of apples would fill 7 quarts. I also figured that I would be done peeling coring and slicing since I have a handy dandy machine by the time Denton got up from his nap.

Can I just say? Sometimes I’m wrong. Very. Very. Wrong.
By lunchtime I had 3 and a half quarts full of applesauce; even with the apple peeler-corer-slicer doing the peeling, coring, and slicing and my Vitamix doing the pureeing. I’d used up all my apples and thankfully Kevin offered to pick me more.
Finally, by the time Denton was down for his afternoon nap, I had filled all the jars.
My mother-in-law had showed me how to use the pressure canner when we canned tomatoes together and it seemed very straight forward. It’s an awesome canner that she got for a wedding present in 1962. (Wedding presents have changed somewhat in the ensuing 40 years, haven’t they?)
She graciously had made sure the rubber ring was at it’s full width by boiling it so had given it to me not installed in the canner. Trouble was, I didn’t know where to install it. Even more troublesome, I thought I did.
After messing with the fool thing for 45 minutes, and reading the instruction booklet eleventy-seven times, I called Kevin to see if he could help me. That would be a big negative. Although his mom put up gazillions of quarts of produce every year his whole growing up life, he had never helped her. Suddenly, I noticed a small illustration that seemed to show the rubber ring going in the lid, not on the pot and voila, we could make the canner close and seal.
I happily canned my applesauce. Or so I thought.
When I took my lovely quarts out of the pressure canner around 5:15 p.m. the little button on the top of the jar lid still went up and down! They hadn’t sealed! ALL THAT WORK and I still hadn’t done it right!!
I called my mother-in-law who by now was off work and on her way home to see if she could stop over to see what I had done wrong this time. I was very near meltdown stagetears when she kindly informed me that it sometimes can take up to 24 hours for them to seal; they don’t just seal right away.
“OH.” I said, sheepishly.
And sure enough, I now have 7 quarts of applesauce canned in sparkling jars.
I had 1/2 a quart left over that the children devoured for dinner. Which is all they are going to get, ever, because after all that work, NOBODY is going to be eating that applesauce.
Today I canned seven quarts of green beans, without much fuss or ado. It was much simpler because I had already snapped most of them (the children helped one day and I had a friend over who helped another day) and they were waiting in the freezer.
I think there is a learning curve with this, but I do think I am really going to enjoy providing home grown produce for my family all throughout the year with the beauty that is canning.

2 thoughts on “Canning

  1. If you don't have a Ball Blue Book, get one at Wal-Mart. It will be your best friend to help with canning. The applesauce shouldn't need a pressure canner-the boiling water bath should do. I agree there is nothing better than home grown food in the middle of winter.


  2. Teresa gives good advice…the Ball Blue Book is crucial! Boiling water can be more messy, but I think it's easier. Sometimes I have trouble getting my pressure canner to seal the first time, and have to start over. 🙁
    I know the feeling of not wanting to eat any of that hard work!! My distractions right now are cows, not kids, but hang in there, it's worth it!

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