Preserving Canning Wisdom

Kiva From Maryland

When I first discovered canning, I felt that a part of my childhood had lacked something very crucial–putting away our abundance for another time. My great-grandmother canned but my grandmother and mother did not. I was determined that my kids would know the importance of keeping our pantry stocked. Not only is it important that they know how to stock a pantry, but also that with a few ingredients and no preservatives, you can have delicious items made with your own hands.

When I am canning, my children run to the kitchen to help me make jams, pickles, and sauces. They are at the age now where they don’t want the mass-produced items because they do not taste as good as Mommy’s. My children are instrumental in the planting of and harvesting from our garden and are eager to help me make purchases from local growers. They jump at the opportunity to do things like go strawberry picking–because they love strawberry jam.

We often share our canned items with others. Through giving, my children see first-hand the joy that comes from receiving a delicious jar of canned jam, relish, or pickles. It is a joy to know that this time-honored tradition will be kept alive by my children. I must say that I feel for my son’s as-yet-unknown future wife–I hope her mother is teaching her to can because Smucker’s and Mott’s come in a distant second and third to the taste of home-canned jams and sauces.

CAA Contributor Kiva Slade cans in Upper Marlboro, MD.

Patty From California

I love canning with my little daughter! She is almost 4 years old and really can’t do that much to help–but she watches. I absolutely believe that having her watch, and help me with the little things like washing the fruit is the first–and maybe most important–step in helping her learn to can by herself someday.

Canning is in my family. My Irish born and raised grandmother used to can jams. During a time when frozen vegetables and TV dinners were the rages, she still served fresh vegetables and home-cooked Sunday night dinners. The only regret I have is that I never canned with her. It wasn’t something my mom ever did, so I learned it on my own, as an adult, with help from my sister-in-law.

We grow tomatoes and lemons and plums in our backyard and my daughter picks those with me. And I think that just letting her see me canning and involving her at her ability level will encourage her to want to can someday. Of course, she loves to eat our homemade strawberry jam on our homemade scones. I hope that this is the start of something we can always share together.

CAA Contributor Patty Ogg cans in Lomita, CA.

Kathi from Washington

The best way to convey the arts of preservation are to live them. My kids have watched me can (and dry, freeze, pickle...) food since before they could talk. This is just the way it is. In our house, it’s not something amazing or weird or magical. We grow food in our yard and we don’t waste any of it. This is how I was raised and how my mother and grandmother were raised before me.

Now that my mom and grandmother are both gone, it’s more meaningful to me to “put by” (as my grandmother used to say). My oldest is old enough to handle a knife, so he gets more responsibility in the process. And, for now, my youngest’s main involvement is to eat the half-sour pickles that he loves so much. He has a pickle dance, that we make him do every day, to earn his pickle.

CAA Contributor Kathi Jenness lives in Renton, Washington.

Comments (3)

Rich text editor

    Love the storys!!!

    Agree completely! My kids didn’t eat or enjoy jam or jelly until we started making the good stuff at home. Now they love it!

    Canning is such a wonderful artistic expression with deep nostalgic roots. The smells, the process, no wonder it brings such joy to our lives no matter the age.