Traverse City Record-Eagle

Edna Shaffer: Grandma's Kitchen

September 3, 2007

Edna Shaffer: Home canners get moving now

Summer's end: The gardens are at their peak, the peaches and pears are ripe and juicy, and the big red tomatoes are ready for canning.

Freezing and canning have long been a big part of my life and I'm happy to say my girls have inherited my love for it. I have warm memories from early childhood of sitting by my mother on the porch shelling peas. We picked peas "on the halves," meaning that whatever amount you picked for the grower was half yours. We always had a good supply of Crowders and Purple Hulls for the winter.

My nephew still brings some for me when he comes for a visit from the south. Mother Nature was a little contrary by having all of this bounty come during the hottest time of the year.

I feel a twinge of guilt when I think how much harder our mothers and grandmothers had to work to put up their winter's food supply. My mother had a wood kitchen range and carried water in from a faucet in the yard. With firing up the stove to heat water to clean the jars and then to process the food, the kitchen was like a sauna for hours, and no electricity for a fan to cool us down!

Speaking of conveniences -- or lack thereof -- I recall visiting Howard's aunt Addie about 1948 in the hills of West Virginia. She stored her home-canned food, as well as her fresh eggs, milk and vegetables, in her root cellar about 10 steps from her back door. She lamented that she couldn't get into it a few days before because when she opened the door, there was a large cottonmouth wrapped around the milk jug! I just said he could have the cellar; you don't argue with a cottonmouth. That same day, I watched a snake swallowing a frog on her back step. Just his feet were sticking out -- what a fate!

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