Friday, July 1, 2016

Canning Stories: A Legacy of Canning Fruit by Rolynn Anderson

NATURE’S BOUNTY.  Notice the capital letters, showing reverence.  When my husband and I bought our 1993-built home on half an acre here on the Central Coast, the size of the one-story house, it’s California ranch style, and its half acre lot were big sellers, but the side-yard, filled with fruit trees tickled my fancy.  All the trees were puny, but the potential!  Two apricot, two plum, one each of orange, fig, peach, apple, and lemon.  The peach and lemon died and I added an Asian pear apple, a lime and a grapefruit.  Every year the orange, fig, and apple produce.  Not the apricot and plum.  But this year, the plum tree went absolutely wild.  I had enough plums to feed the multitudes.  I froze jam and dried plums, but I also froze fresh fruit for future cobblers and ice cream toppings.

So now you have the background.  The point is, I come from a long line of fruit canners.  Do you? 

At the height of the plum season, I had to leave my house for a two-week family reunion.  I invited about twenty women to come pick plums while I was gone.  Takers out of twenty?  Eight.  Why?  The women who came before I left town and after, were canners.  They’d grown up in households where if you grew fruit, you canned it; if your neighbors had extra fruit, they shared and you canned theirs.  If the peaches or pears were cheap in the marketplace, you bought a bushel and canned the fruit.  If you heard someone had Santa Rosa plums, you came running.   I come from a family of canners.  Do you?

Before I left for my trip, some of women came over to my house to get the lay of the land.  Most of them were wide-eyed at the bounty, excited to tell me stories of making jam, preserves and cobblers with fresh fruit.  They left my house excited about their bags of fruit and anxious to tell me, when I returned, how they used the plums. 


Eight out of twenty women who pulled plums off my trees were canners.  I come from a long line of fruit canners.  Do you?
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Fear Land is a finalist for a Rone Award, thanks to all of you who convinced the Rone judges take a last look at my novel.   



https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4990049.Rolynn_Anderson

14 comments:

Leah St. James said...

I am sooooo jealous, Rolynn, not just because of your bounty of fruit (in your own yard!), but of your ability to can! It's something I've always wanted to learn but never did. (I think I read too many horror stories about what can happen if you don't follow proper procedures!) Enjoy your bounty! I'll just be drooling over in my house. :-)

Leah St. James said...

I meant to add--good luck with the Rone Awards! That's wonderful.

Margo Hoornstra said...

Best of luck on the Rone! As for canning, um I don't want to make anyone sick. Although I used to can tomatoes. Can't do a lot of damage to them. Coming from a long line of farmers, I'm afraid the green thumb gene passed me by. Those eight ladies are extremely lucky. I'm jealous too.

Ana Morgan said...

I taught myself to can when we moved to our farm. I do less canning than I used to when my kids were young, don;t stay up til 2 am processing the last batch of beans anymore, but I still grow a good-sized garden and have u-pick raspberries.
I would can that bounty!

babette said...

I love to can! I have an entire section of my pantry that is devoted to jars of food. Last fall alone I put up 65 quarts of peaches, 30 quarts of tomatoes, 55 pints of salsa, 30 quarts of apples, and 25 quarts of peach nectar (what to do with those peaches too overripe for canning, 4 cups peaches, 1 cup sugar, 1/4 c lemon juice, puree in food processor, steam can for 20 minutes, dilute 2:1 for a wonderful punch).
I have fond memories of spending long days in the kitchen with my mother putting up tomatoes (our neighbor was a tomato farmer who would bring over all the ones too ripe to ship to market). I now spend days in the kitchen with my daughter. Nothing beats opening a can of something in the middle of winter and smelling summer.

Rolynn Anderson said...

Leah and Margo with the option of freezing, preserving fruit is simpler with less sugar. You don't HAVE to boil and seal jars, etc. I helped my mother peel fruit and can dozens of jars of fruit over the years...don't do that anymore. Now, my freezer is full of plum concoctions.

Ana, it's true that with fewer people in the house it's less important to can, but I do love to preserve fruit I pick out, with amounts of sugar I determine....and no preservatives. There's something very satisfying about knowing what you're eating.

Ahh, Babette, you wax with joy at the art, just like my eight fruit sisters. My grandmother's recipe for dill pickles and watermelon pickles are without comparison, for instance. Don't you love to look in the cupboard at all those jars lined up? It feels so....so...comforting and pride-producing. thanks for the recipe for the peach puree. I can almost taste it...and yes, it tastes like summer!

Vonnie Davis said...

I helped with canning as I grew up on the farm. Once I left, I had no desire to carry on. I'm glad you enjoy it. Good luck with your Rone! That's such an honor.

Brenda Whiteside said...

First off, Rone...good luck! As for canning, not me! My husband and DIL have been the canners on our little farm. My husband canned everything that we couldn't consume enough of fresh. Loved the pears and potatoes. But now that the farm is sold and we're one week away from moving, there will probably be little if any canning. DIL took all the canning stuff to Colorado. Hubby had his fill of it, and since I spend as little time in the kitchen as possible, I was okay with that.

Jannine Gallant said...

My grandma was a canner--but then, she lived on a farm. My mom used to be a canner, although I think she gave that up around the time she quit planting a huge garden. Me, uh, no. I'm a writer... LOL I don't have time to be both! Enjoy the fruits of your labor!

Rolynn Anderson said...

Vonnie and Jannine, you are like the vast majority of women who don't like canning. It's quite interesting how what thrills some raises negative vibes for others. I realize my fruit trees would be a source of irritation to many and a miracle to others.

Brenda, I can well imagine the farm overfilled your interest in canning. Seems to me canning loses its luster when it's required. Still, my mother canned to save money...raising 5 kids was costly! My sister is the one in the family who's kept up the skill. I'm a second-rate canner, at best!

Andrea Downing said...

When I was married, at one of the homes we had (we moved quite a bit) we had a tremendous garden and my husband was a keen gardener so I learned to make jams and preserves. I can't say I was keen on it. Eventually all that fruit went to making home-made wines--by my husband, as I gave up the tasks. Good luck for the RONE, Rolynn; I'll be thinking of you!

Rolynn Anderson said...

Gardening and canning are back-breaking tasks, so I understand what you're saying, Andi. Now you've got me thinking about making plum wine. Dang. No more plums to make wine. Now I'm ticked. So Andi are you going to San Diego for RWA?

Diane Burton said...

I used to can fruit, tomato sauce, etc. Not for many years now. My daughter does and her family (us, too) enjoy the bounty. Best wishes on the Rone Award.

Rolynn Anderson said...

Thanks, Diane. You have passed on a great tradition...hands on stuff that makes us feel closer to nature. BTW, I saw today that we've had some effect on closing the ozone hole...Finally, some good news about our human activity. Just had to say, I like a little positive feedback along the way!