Man cannot live on pickles alone

Farm Forum

Every August Dad came into the house and said: “You women don’t know how lucky you have it- to be working inside the house in the air conditioning and not outdoors in this awful heat.”

Indeed, my wrists were cold and stiff. But not from that tiny window unit blasting away in the living room. My hands were plunged into icy sink water full of dirty cucumbers.

I spent days scrubbing pickles, beans, plums, chokecherries, or some other edible thing that Mom thought it would be fun to preserve. While my hands went numb, sweat dripped off my nose from the boiling water on the stove. Oh, yes, I was really lucky (because I had air conditioning).

Given how I hated preserving food in childhood, I never thought I’d actually like canning as an adult. Since I’m not a shrink, I won’t delve into any genetic predisposition theories. I’ll just explain the details:

At the end of a productive day my wrists are numb and my back is stiff, but I’m not annoyed. Now that I’ve become partial to this addiction, the exhaustion is rather enjoyable. I feel accomplished when I count the jars, label them, and put them on the shelf in the basement. They are my trophies, waiting to brighten a dull winter meal.

One downside occurs when those trophies are untouched into the next summer. I panic for a moment, “What am I doing?,” “Nobody liked that batch,” “Why did I think it was a good idea to can those?”