Second World War: Home Canned Fruit Prevented Rationing Hardship

During the Second World War, farm families dealt with rationing by canning their own fruit and using honey and molasses instead of sugar.

| Good Old Days

My first memory of the Second World War was when a friend's daughter, her husband and little daughter visited in Minnesota. The young husband was a Naval member. He returned to duty on the West Coast, leaving his family in Minnesota. Soon the wife received a telegram: 

"For heaven's sake stay where you are." The Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor. Then followed rationing. We were farmers, and had our own dairy products as well as garden produce. We did not need coupons for food, except sugar. For farmers 10 pounds was insufficient, for farmers often had extra men to feed.

Long before mixes came on the market, I developed my own. I had cake mixes, canned syrup for canned fruit - we were limited to only 40 cans of fruit. I decided to can in water-pack and discovered a little salt cut the tartness of applesauce and some other fruits. I made ice cream with saccharin. Corn syrup was available, and we learned to use it in baking especially. Molasses and honey were easy to find and substitute for sugar.

Our most difficult problem was gas and fuel oil shortages. Our furnace burned diesel fuel and we could not get enough to warm that insinuated Minnesota house. Our son was a tiny baby, so we bought a coal-burning heater and installed it in the living room.

Hazel Wilson
Mountain View, California

Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then Capper’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from Capper’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community. 

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