This picture is of a poster that was printed and circulated by the United States Government during World War ll. It was part of a campaign that encouraged people to grow their own “Victory Garden” and preserve what they produced, in order to reduce their dependence on limited food rations. Of late, there has been a substantial renewal of interest in the art of canning and preserving food at home.
Canning and the preserving of food is something that has been done in my family for years. Some of my earliest memories of summer include sitting on a kitchen stool, watching my mom and her sister’s-in-law as they canned peaches. The kitchen was filled with steaming hot kettles, bags of sugar, lugs of peaches, jars as far as the eye could see and conversation. Lots of it. I remember longing for the day that I would be old enough to join in. I knew that there was something special going on, and I couldn’t wait to be a part of it. Peaches were not the only thing that were “put by”, but the taste and smell of tree-ripened summer peaches will forever be imprinted in my memory.
The tradition of “putting food by” and many of the recipes from those times have been passed on, but with the passage of time, many of the methods and guidelines for safe canning have changed. As I share recipes and methods on this site, please be aware that you should always check with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Center for Home Food Preservation for the latest updates. At the end of this post, I have included a link to their website, where you can download a PDF file of their latest version of the Complete Guide to Home Canning.
There are just a few very important things to remember when you are preserving food at home. Fresh is Best. Be Clean. Be Thorough. Be Patient. Be Prepared. Make sure that your food is as fresh as possible. Make sure that your hands, your utensils, and your work area are clean – really clean. Be thorough in following directions. Be patient – you can’t rush safety or success. And lastly, be prepared – to experience the satisfaction that comes from providing for yourself. Be prepared for the requests that you share what you have done with family and friends. Be prepared to share recipes and ideas. Be prepared to be linked to a community.
My experience in home canning is much different from that of my childhood memories. My kitchen is not filled with the helping hands and happy voices of family and neighbors working together. But in my canning endeavors, I am still part of that experience. I am connected with generations of women who came before me, who spent many hot summer days in their kitchens, surrounded with family and friends, canning, chatting, and solving the problems of the day. Yes, it is in my DNA. “Of Course I Can!”