I’ll do it my own dang’d self: Part 2 The Canning!
…or at least my body thinks it is. Scratches and mosquito bites welt to the size of nickles and stay that way for days. Pollen clogs my lungs and leaves me semi-asthmatic. My best months of the year are winter – nothing is growing.
So when I tell you that for the past 2 years I have braved mosquitoes, brambles and general airborne nastiness to pick blackberries for blackberry jelly, and when I also tell you that I am NOT a fan of blackberries nor of jelly, you will understand my full meaning when I say “I love to can!”.
I feel…..virtuous…..when I can. I am preparing for times of want during times of plenty. It is not a crucial skill now (and most certainly NOT cheaper than buying the same thing at the store) but there is some comfort in knowing how to do it. Perhaps one day it will be necessary, either because of the zombie apocalypse or another man-made disaster. In the meantime, I do it because I want to. Because it makes me feel good. Because it makes me grin all the way home.
That first summer as we picked berries, made jelly and canned it, I felt I was making something from practically nothing: just a bunch of berries, a lot of sugar, pectin and heat.
The liquid mixture boiled until it morphed from liquid to syrup to a gel. Then, quick as we could, we poured it all into sterilized jars, put those jars into a huge pot and boiled THAT until everything was hot enough to kill the nastiness.
And then, there was the pop: that lovely moment when the jars were lifted from the hot bath and as they cooled…POP! went the lid. That pop meant the seal was good and the food we just made would last for years. I took each jar and set it on the table, counting the pops. They all sealed! After they cooled, I started filling my basement shelves.
I got good at it. A few batches the first year, a few more the next. Had the process down. The jelly was great. It started to become…..routine. What to do?