Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Canning in the Summertime.

In my early childhood (late 1920's) there were no electric refrigerators and, of course, no freezers nor frozen food. In the summertime ice wagons came daily to sell ice for the ice box to keep food cold.The only way to preserve surplus food was canning or drying.

During the summer our large iron stove would have to be fired up with "stove wood" to make fig and pear and peach perserves and apple jelly. Mama would dry apples and peaches for winter pies and make applesause, peach and pear perserves and pickles.

In my early teens we finally got an electric refrigerator. I remember one of our neighbors who was visiting, when the refrigerator was humming, she said in awe, "It's making more ice."
We had a beautiful little peach tree in our back yard near a street where little boys passed by and some of the little boys could not resist the temptation to pick some of the peaches. My mother loved children, including little boys. She had
five sons, two of which were grown and married in my early memories. So Mama would go out and kindly tell the little boys to help her watch for the peaches to get ripe and to please let the peaches stay on the trees until they were ripe and she would share with them.

Nevertheless, "boys will be boys" as they say. By the time the peaches were ripe , there were usually few peaches left on the tree. But Mama always found enough, on the yard side of the little tree, to make a few quart jars of some of the best peach pickles I ever ate.

My mother would also make a year's supply of taking apple and other fruit and peach or pear peelings to boil and strain the juice. She also canned green beans, tomatoes and vegetable soup in large quantities.

I have seen Mama stand at the stove canning and preserving summer fruits and vegetables with sweat pouring off her face. She would have a towel around her neck
like a scarf to wipe her face as she stood at the hot stove.

This would make the whole house hot. So we escaped to the porch or yard as often as possible, as did all the neighbors.

One of the advantages was that with no television and no air conditioning one got acquainted with neighbors. As long a Mama lived, she had neighbors dropping in to visit, even in the television and window fan era in the fifties, sixties, and early seventies. Mama, born March 6, 1885, died December 7, 1973. My father had died in 1932.


Carol said...

I really enjoyed reading about canning in the 1920s and 1930s. Even in an air-conditioned house, canning is hot work! I can only imagine how miserably hot it was without AC.

Joan said...

Very interesting!

Carol said...

6/29/09 - Larisa and I are going to the Farmers Market tomorrow morning to get some fruits/vegetables to put up. I don't know what we'll get yet - it just depends on what is is season right now and what looks good. I love freezing and canning.