Pioneer Potluck: About getting ready for winter

  • By Grannie Annie
  • Wednesday, October 1, 2014 11:14am
  • LifeFood

Canning, freezing and drying

The summer bounty

I do not know if it is because I watched and participated in the preserving of fruits and vegetables when I was growing up or if it’s an instinct that most of us have to gather and preserve our garden bounty – pick berries, make pickles and relish, can and freeze meat.

My Grandma and Grandpa lived in the middle of a 80 acre cherry and apple orchard in Northern Colorado. We lived on a farm one mile from them. Mom would go and help her Mom (Grandma) can apples and cherries and make relish and pickles. I, of course, was under foot and so I was put to work. We spent hours and hours and more hours pitting cherries. I mean each and every cherry was picked up and with one flick of the thumb the pit was ejected into a bowl and the cherry into another. Grandma was the fastest with Mom and Aunt Ruth always in competition about how high the pile of pitted cherries were in their bowl. I was put to work under the intense stare of my Mom and the abolishment “You cannot eat more cherries that you pit!” Then the cherries were packed in quart jars with a cup of sugar on top or hot sugar syrup poured over top – sealed and processes in hot water bath. That took all day! But first you picked the cherries!!

Apples were gathered – mostly Jonathan’s and other tart apples canned for pies in the winter time – especially at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Grandma always brought her cherry and apple pies to picnics. She made her own pie crusts from lard. Oh my – those were so good!

The apples were washed, peeled and immersed in a pan of water with lemon juice added. I have her recipe for pie apples. Peel and slice apples into water-lemon bowl. Drain and place in another bowl – add sugar-depending on the tartness-pour over top of apples -but do not stir. Let set for 12 hours on cupboard. Heat through with liquid, simmer gently 15 minutes and pack in quart jars Complete with hot water bath to seal and preserve. So very good! This is the method I use to can apples. But first you pick the apples!

My Uncle Guy who lived with us, would take a pickup truck to the Western Slope of Colorado – Grand Junction, Fruita – to buy peaches and pears and bring them back for Mom to can and make jams. No doubt Uncle Guy had ulterior motives!! He absolutely loved Moms jams on hot biscuits and freshly baked bread. The peaches were blanched and peeled, then sliced and hot packed. Pears were peeled, cut in two-cored and hot packed. But first they had to be picked, brought some 200 miles to Fort Collins to the farm, picked over and the blemished ones were set aside for Uncle Guys Jam. Mom canned peaches one day, pears the next and made Jams the next. Me and my sisters job were to wash jars, count out the rings and lids for each jar. Mom would boil water and pour over the jars to sterilize. We had water delivered and put in a cistern – so not one drop of water was ever wasted. Mom stored the jars and rings in the basement. Our job was to lug the jars up the stairs. I wish I could help Mom again!!

I am not giving times or pressure for canning here because of the difference in altitudes in other parts of the country – use your canning book for details. I have a collection of canning books.

And then there is the pickles!! My Mom made the very best dill pickle!! Grandma made bread and butter pickles, pickled apples rings with cinnamon candies and pickles peaches with a piece of cinnamon stick in each jar. After she opened a jar for Christmas dinner, I would chew on the cinnamon stick all after noon!

I have Grandma’s German Relish recipe. I made this every year for several years. The past five years I have not. The recipe for German Relish follows in the recipe section. But first you go and pick the cucumbers out of Dads or Pickle Bills field.

I freeze blueberries, rhubarb, strawberries and raspberries. I dry herbs that I grow and catnip for the kitties. I can salmon and freeze it also. Years ago, I made Moose Mincemeat. I love mincemeat as much as my Dad did. Moms was made out of venison, spices and apples, no citron. Boiled down all day and canned. But first you have to hunt for the deer or moose!!.

OH I forgot – smoking meats are a type of preserving. Done that too!

Good memories on a fall day with the chill in the air.

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