by Delbert Trew
remains popular throughout time
Old Mother Nature had been peeking into our freezer and cellar to
check our fruit and jelly supply. We were out of fresh frozen peaches
and apricots and are running low on pear preserves. We still had a
supply of wild plum and grape jelly.
Seeing our shortage, she allowed our fruit trees to bear in spite
of a late snowstorm and freezing temperatures in the early spring.
I don't know the averages, but I believe that only about one in every
four years we have fruit available for canning. Thankfully, the bounty
provided this year replenished our shelves.
As long as I can remember, my grandparents, parents and kinfolk gathered
and canned fruit of all kinds. Whether wild-grown or tame, whether
canned or frozen, special efforts were always made to save and preserve
these crops. Fortunately, I married Ruth who has continued the practice
as she was also raised with this tradition.
of my early growth accomplishments came when I was strong enough to
carry a 10-pound sack of sugar from the car into our pantry. I felt
like Tarzan as Superman had not been invented at the time. Boy, did
we use the sugar during canning season.
Another of my chores was taking a milk bucket to the cellar and fetching
empty fruit jars back to the kitchen. That was how I learned the difference
in pints, quarts and half-gallons. I just missed the era of green
glass jars with glass or galvanized lids. Every jar we owned had Ball
or Mason written across the bottom. I can remember when every burner
on our stove was busy steaming jars or lids or heating bubbling pots
During hard times, Mother culled through the rubber rings that fit
under the lids. Us boys got the culls and played "carnival," tossing
them at the door knobs trying to make a "ringer." Later, the jar lids
had the rubber gaskets made into the lids. They ruined our carnival
games but provided many a wheel for a 2-by-4 wooden block.
community kept up with the latest canning and preserving techniques
by attending the Home Demonstration classes held at various homes.
As each type of vegetable or fruit came into season, recipes and canning
demonstrations were held, teaching the women the latest.
When rural electricity came along,
techniques for freezing food were introduced.
When locker plants were built, many rural people changed from canning
meat to freezing and storing at the local freezing unit.
Seems like about the time "pant-stretchers" arrived, women started
pouring hot melted paraffin over the top of jelly instead of using
a regular lid. Even back then, the changes came so fast we could hardly
If you can remember cleaning off the dasher from a freezer of homemade
ice cream, licking the cake icing from a spoon and bowl, sucking the
last drop of juice from already-squeezed lemon rinds and licking the
square papers that Jell-O powder once came packed in, you don't have
to worry about the draft.
© Delbert Trew
"It's All Trew"
January 18, 2005 Column