[Editor's note: This one in a series of essays by winners of our "Preserving Canning Wisdom" giveaway.]
I first learned to can when I was about eight years old back in Texas. Four generations of women–my Great-Grandma, Grandma, Aunt Katie, Cousin Lisa, Mom, and I–would gather together in my Grandma’s kitchen to can the freshly picked bounty of Grandma’s garden.
Grandma lived in the country and she grew the most wonderful vegetables in her garden. I remember as a little girl wandering through row after row of corn, lettuce, okra, beans, tomatoes, onions, squash, carrots, potatoes, beets, and more. What fun it was to stop and pick a bean or a fresh tomato and eat it right off the vine!
I remember a particular day when we canned green beans, peaches, and tomatoes. My jobs included snapping the green beans and peeling and pitting the peaches. I also had the task of stirring the jam. Because I was so small, I stood on a stool in order to reach the stove so I could stir the jam. Grandma cautioned me not to let the mixture stick or the sugar would burn during the rolling boil. It was the best of days learning from all those great southern ladies.
Sadly, those first two generations have passed on–leaving my mother and me to teach my daughter this lost art. My daughter’s favorite thing to can (and eat) is strawberry jam. I so enjoy sharing this precious family tradition with my daughter so she will be able to teach the next generation.
It is so wonderful on a cold winter day to open a jar of home-canned vegetables or preserves. Opening a home-canned jar is like getting a double dose of joy: eating a wonderful treat and remembering the days of canning in the kitchen with family.
CAA Contributor Patricia Cogliandro cans in San Jose, California.