Thursday, July 30, 2009

Enough for Preserving

This week the garden is getting some much-needed rain, but even with the last few weeks of dry weather, enough cucumbers and peppers are being produced for pickling and green beans for dehydrating.

I've pickled some green beans, too, and every time I'm packing green beans into jars I remember my father telling about when his own father, in the heat of an Oklahoma summer, worked in the kitchen to can what must have been hundreds of jars of green beans, back when there was no air-conditioning. At canning time in Oklahoma, the temperatures are typically in the mid-90s to low 100s. Add a pressure canner on a hot stove to that!

Even though I am lucky to be working in an air-conditioned kitchen now, I’ve put up small batches of jam and tomato sauce in un-air-conditioned kitchens in the past, so I have a small idea of what that must have been like.

Last week, when I canned pickled peppers and cucumbers, I had the big pot of boiling water for processing the jars out on the back deck, on the propane cooker. This brilliant idea of my husband’s kept the worst of the heat outside.

In spite of having made progress on the canning, it seems as though I am really far behind in putting up produce this year. We’ve put some wild blackberries in the freezer, but the birds beat us to most of the blueberries, so only a few quarts of those got dehydrated or frozen.

More green beans are in the dehydrator right now, because those little plants are really cranking out the beans. The next blast of tomatoes should be big enough that some can be either dehydrated or frozen, and that may make me feel a bit better about the state of my pantry.

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