The strainer. © Bruce Stambaugh 2015
By Bruce Stambaugh
It’s a simple sound, one that would go nearly unnoticed if it weren’t for all the work involved, and the anticipated joy on a cold winter day.
This time of year, the sudden, short, pleasing pop of canning lids sealing brings smiles to the faces and hearts of many folks young and old. It’s as sweet and lovely as the produce stored inside the glistening glass containers.
When I shared these thoughts on a Facebook post, I was pleasantly surprised at the immediate response from friends. Folks across several generations testified to the pleasure and joy this momentary, miniscule explosion instills.
Kelsie, said, “Just a tiny noise, but it implies so much.” Indeed, it does.
“It is the sound of successful accomplishment,” wrote Alexander from Russia. Exactly! That pop is the universal sound of delicious meals ahead. It is the announcement of another happy harvest.
“Love it!” Patty implored. “The sound of a job well done.” Knowing her family, Patty spoke from personal experience.
“Love that sound,” Vernon mused. His family history knows that blessed soothing sound, too.
“It’s always exciting and may be why I put up with the canning mess,” wrote Joanne. Professional, honest person that she is, Joanne pretty well nailed the harvest time celebration.
Canning does have its stresses, though. Just ask Cathy.
“Boy do I worry when I don’t hear one of them,” she commented. “It’s exciting times around here to hear those pops!”
Those weren’t frivolous exclamation points either. A canner experiences great relief upon hearing that barely audible sound above rushing traffic, ornery children, and televisions blaring. Though this tinny ping of a noise lasts but a millisecond, it represents the efforts of months of intensive work and hopeful patience. Ask any gardener.
A lot of planning goes into ensuring a productive, successful vegetable garden. From the time the first seed catalog arrives in the mail mid-winter, gardeners envision what, when and where they’ll plant their seeds and seedlings.
Those who follow the almanac or family tradition have their peas planted by the Ides of March. Given Ohio’s extended winters lately, I doubt those plans played out.
Nevertheless, those who love getting their hands dirty can’t wait to plant those first seeds or set the initial tomato and pepper plants. First, though, comes fertilizing and tilling the soil.
A lot more active verbs follow planning and planting. Collectively, buying, watering, weeding, pruning, husking, peeling, cleaning, cooking, pouring outline the ground to jar process.
For those with truck patches, it’s fun to spot the first ripening tomato. It’s horrid to discover a tomato worm, however. Like it or not, that’s all part of the natural growing process.
The hope for the cunning canner is that the sweet corn, tomatoes and apples won’t all come ripe in the same week. If they do, everything else gets set aside. When it’s time to preserve the canning and freezing commence.
With burners blazing, kitchens quickly heat up often in the warmest weather of the year. It’s a sweaty but necessary price to pay for such sweet rewards.
Jeanne summed up the preserving procedure with these questions and a one-word answer. “Tomatoes? Juice? Pickles? Yum,” she said.
Come January, I just hope I remember all that went into creating a healthy meal of tasty tomato soup, pickled beets, frozen Incredible sweet corn, spicy salsa, and homemade jam. Most of all, I don’t want to forget that satisfying sound that seals the deal.
© Bruce Stambaugh 2015