Wayfaring Spoon offers classes for newbie canners and those who want to just get friends together to make homemade love in a jar. Rates vary so drop me a line with what you have in mind! Basic classes start at $15.00 per person.
I love all things in a Mason jar! One of my proudest moments was receiving my Master Preservers Certification from Utah State Extension Service. I grew up taking for granted the great canning my mother created every year from our garden and local produce stands. Canning has seen its ebb and flow through the years along with the changes in canning procedures. In many ways canning is becoming a lost art with the ease of canned and processed foods readily availability.
Canning was a constant in my childhood. The months following up to August were a slow parade of what was to come with the first batch of strawberry jam and spring peas. I would help bring up the canning jars from the basement, case by case, in assorted sizes; pints, quarts, and gallon jars. They lined every available surface as I helped wash and sterilize. Our kitchen was scrubbed top to bottom, in my eyes it was already clean enough, but Mom drilled into me the important of food safety.
Early green beans where gathered in white aprons to be stemmed out on the back porch after supper in the last light of evening. Mom’s eagle eye watching my apron that I didn’t let a discolored green bean go into the pile. Pickled green beans and canned green beans need to be pretty and sassy in their jars she will tell me.
In August canning gained a life of its own. I joked that if anything was in the kitchen more than five minutes it would go into a jar. Tomatoes, carrots, peaches, apricots, pears, soups, pickles, and then the apples in every type of recipe you can think of. My brother was born in July, but that didn’t stop mom. She put his bed that rocked right in the middle of the kitchen. I was on a step stool helping peel peaches and she was pulling jars out of the water vat. Not missing a beat she would reach out and set the bed to rocking if he was fussing. Mama didn’t can just for the family. She canned for my grandfather and uncle along with my father's parents. Their batches had to be made separately and low sugar since they had diabetes. Not to mention anyone who was sick or a few jars to an elderly neighbor. In the middle of the chaos we would pick basil and I would load up my apron to help pick off the leaves to dry in folded sheets on the clothes line out back. To this day when I smell basil I smile, even though at the time I wasn’t so keen about all the work. End of August we would load up a picnic and the truck to wander out to the springs past Eureka Utah to pick chokecherries for jam and by October she would be seasoning and canning venison.
When I close my eyes I can still see the basement pantry lined with rows of jars a veritable rainbow of colors and selection. All winter, when the snow was deep and temperatures hovering in the teens, it felt like summer with a bowl of peaches and ice cream watching the only 3 channels we got on our black and white TV.
So why do I can? Because cooking is love made visible, and I know what is in the jar is hand picked, cleaned, and cooked. I don't can on the same level as my mother did, but I every time I do, or when I teach a class, I look toward heaven and whisper, "Thanks mom for the gift of teaching me how to create one jar of love at a time."
Love in a jar.