All of my summer memories include growing, weeding, picking, cooking, canning or freezing food for the winter. Though I wouldn’t admit it when I was a child, while weeding the garden, I relished the solitude and quiet sounds of nearby chickens and birds. When peas or beans were ready, I often sat in our enclosed porch with Mother, while we talked and worked.
Freezing corn was a big affair at our house, even Grandma and Grandpa came out to help. The men picked the corn and dumped it near the stock tank. We kids shucked it and carried it to the basement, where Mother had filled the boiler with water and brought it to a boil on the old kerosene stove. After it was blanched, we carried it back outside to another boiler Mother had filled with cold well water. From there, it was back to the basement again, where the women cut the kernels off the cobs and packaged the corn for freezing. There’s nothing better in winter than fresh frozen sweet corn. I still freeze corn this way.
In later years, after I’d married, when we moved to more urban areas, we would have a garden. We also found a rural vacation spot with blackberry patches in the woods, and we planned our trips so we could pick ripe blackberries. We froze some of the berries and made jam with the rest.
My husband is now retired and considers himself a gatherer. He picks enough blackberries so we can put up about 100 quarts a year. He also picks up native pecans. While we don’t raise a garden nowadays, we’re able to find fresh vegetables at the local farmers’ market and ripe fruits at a nearby orchard. So we still put up our own fruits and vegetables.
Read more about home canning in Stories of Food Preservation Methods.