Sunday, 7 August 2011

It's Kettle Time...

Every August when my mom pulled out the big heavy duty canning kettle, glass jars with their matching lids, and metal screw tops, I knew then, that the lazy days of summer were definitely coming to an end.   Yet, as I grew older and was able to help out more with the process, it became an enjoyable experience for me.  I loved to watch and see how my mother packed the fruit into the jars, not wasting any space.  I treasured those moments when I got to add cloves to the fruit or lemon peel for added flavour. I got to help put the dill, garlic and pickling spices into the jars before she turned them on their sides to pack in as many cucumbers as possible.  I learned little tricks along the way like not using bruised fruit, making sure that the pickles were fresh and crisp and cold before packing.

 In Grade 9 I entered three jars of canning into the Norfolk County Fair competition for High School Students.  I won two first prizes and one second.  The award was $4.00. Wow! In those days, it seemed like big money to me.
Now that my mom has passed away, I believe that one of the greatest gifts she shared with me was teaching me how to ‘can’ and ‘preserve’.  I still make jams and jellies even pickles and chutneys. I miss those telephone calls where we asked each other what "we had put up that year." She always took me down into her basement to show me her canning shelves. I can still see those jars of delicious peaches waiting to be opened on a cold winter day.

So, today as I pulled out my kettle I thought of mom, my grandmothers, my aunts, great aunts and neighbors who all in their lifetime ‘put up’ at this time of the year.  Except for myself, the only other person I know who ‘cans’ is my mother’s sister, my aunt Ilene. She is 80 years old and while I am chopping away to make home-made salsa today,  she is doing peaches.  Last year she sent me a great recipe she has given me permission to share.
Aunt Ilene’s Fruit Tomali   
2 quarts tomato peeled and cut
1 cup diced onions
2 cups celery chopped
2 peaches peeled and chopped
2 pears peeled and chopped
2 cups chopped sweet red peppers
1 cup chopped green pepper
2 cups white vinegar
1 tablespoon salt
½ cup mixed whole spice tied in a cloth
2 cups of sugar

Combine all of the ingredients except for the sugar.  Simmer it for 2 hours. Add the sugar and boil for 30 minutes.  Seal in sterilized jars.

This recipe *picture on the right, is particularly good with chicken and beef.  It’s so good I even eat it on toast. Yum!   The salsa on the left is good with the usual but it is great on a baked potato. The best part of canning for me is after I take the jars out of the kettle and they pop.  You know then that they are sealed and safe until you are ready to open them.

Check out this article that I wrote:  this one includes my Grandmother Choros’ Hot Pickled Banana Pepper Recipe.

If you like nostalgia and memoir check out my friend Ernie’s new blog.


Teri Flatley said...

Gloria, what a nice story. My mom and grandmothers canned, but I have never done it. The results sound wonderful!

Alastair Barnett said...

Hi Gloria,

Lovely post. You brought back memories of my childhood in Scotland. The highland cottage kitchens were busy places at this time of year. Also in September as children, we would all gather at the the "tailors'" cottage and the village tailor would lead us like the Pied Piper through the hedgerows gathering hazelnuts and brambles beside Loch Tay. Happy days. Thanks for the memories. PS: I'm sending you a recipe for a popular Scottish jelly made at this time of year. Very tasty with game etc...

marie said...

My mom used to make the best fruit cocktail and about 10 years ago she passed her big enamel pot onto me because she knew I was experimenting. So far I'm still just making jams but I have made peaches and pears and my boys loved them. Now that the boys aren't around it's just jam to all my friends and family. Warning to those who may try canning...make sure people give you back your jars or they don't get any more.