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Putting things by was the wonderful phrase used long ago for preserving the bounty of the garden. Our short growing season made it all the more important that everyone make an effort to can their own fruits and vegetables for the long winter ahead. We have the same summer and winter weather, but times have changed. Whether it is because most households have two income providers or not, it seems like there are not as many people preserving food for their pantry.
Long after the fair is over, participants will be looking back to see if all the time and energy devoting to showing their product was worth it. Those who entered the pantry category and won blue ribbons for their efforts won’t be wasting time thinking about it. The canning season is already here. For some folks, getting ready for the fair each year starts on the heels of the annual event, as processing the fruit or vegetables that are in season begins.
Those of us who grew up in families who preserved the local produce seem almost wistful about it, telling stories about family or friend’s special chokecherry jelly or salsa. One would think it would prompt a run to the store to get started on it while the season is just starting, but it doesn’t appear to have that affect. Most of us have all kinds of excuses:
“Gosh, I wish I had let the yard work go for a week, I had to mow next week anyhow.
“Those peaches are too expensive, I can just open a can when I feel like fruit.”
Our busy lives seem even busier when there is canning to be done. It is easy to forget the sense of accomplishment that one gets from looking at all those jars on the pantry shelf. Then again, it is hard to remember the taste of fresh fruit and the sinking feeling when the pantry was empty.