Saturday, August 6, 2005

MIDSUMMER MEMORIES

It’s midsummer alright. There are certain sounds and smells that have always said “midsummer” to me. Something beyond the roses, sweet williams and dry grass. There used to be the click thunk of the knife cutting corn off the cob. The hiss from the pressure cooker as the water heated and air in the cooker exhausted. The odd steamy smell of the steam from the processing. Corn in the canner doesn’t smell anything like corn. The faint pop of the lids as they sealed. We used to find dried corn kernels in the oddest places for the next week or so. We finally wised up and just set up the workstation in the driveway. The kernels could go wherever they wanted and all it took was a hose to clean it up.

There’s the snippy sound as you stem green beans and break them into smaller pieces. Mom said the heck with it this year and we skipped the blanching step. So what if we don’t get quite so many beans in each jar. The blanching semi par boils the beans and makes for a tighter pack. It’s also steamy work and it was going to be hot enough in the kitchen already. Same little pop pop as the lids sealed, Too bad there was a big loud pop as one of the Mason jars decided it was time to head for a better incarnation and broke in the canner. Nice clean break at the bottom. Since most of the beans just floated it was easy enough to salvage them. I think that jar may have been older than I am. I know the pressure cooker is. My folks bought two things right after they were married. Mom doesn’t remember if it was the sewing machine or the pressure cooker. It still has the original wooden handles.

We’re lucky. In about twenty-five minutes we can be buying produce from the folks who grew it. Peaches are just coming on and the summer apples. I swear the zucchini plants in the front yard have grown a foot in the last week. Some things adore hot weather. I hope we don’t find the squash that tried to eat Springfield out there later in the month. There’s always at least on that manages to hide until it’s big enough for a cat to hide behind.

The blackberries by the bike path are beginning to change color. I know some of them are ripe because the car next to me at work had really pretty purple splotches on it. Obviously a bird or two had found some early ripe ones.

I don’t think we save much money by doing it ourselves but they taste too much different from what you can get in the can. I know we don’t do anything resembling the five hundred jars a year we used to do when I was in my teens. Hard work? Yeah. But, you got a little scent of midsummer in January. And that was hard to beat.

2 comments:

sistercdr said...

I remember canning with my mother.  It is hard work, but there's nothing like the product, and it's a bonding experience as well.

lisaram1955 said...

It's amazing that you still do that, with just the two of you to feed.  It's more than just the end result that you're after, I think...

I think I may attempt that pepper jelly you sent me the recipes for...but I think I lost them in my inbox.  Do you think you could send them again?  Lisa  :-]