Mason canning jars used to stir up mixed memories in me of canning as a kid. I loved the flurry of activity in the kitchen, the whole family together, steam pouring off the stove as the water in the huge canning pot began to boil. It was all great – I just hated vegetables.
It was a yearly ritual, carrying the Mason canning jars from the storage cabinets in the basement up to the kitchen. Out would come the tongs, the lids, the screw tops. Every year I would marvel at how outrageously huge that canning pot was. I especially looked forward to the testing phase – checking to see if the tops would go plip-plop after the mason jars had cooled – a sure sign of a failed seal.
The actual work was fun at first but then, as my family had a huge garden and harvested lots of vegetables, the process became repetitive and monotonous – at least to the mind of a 10 year old.
I never understood why my parents would go through such machinations to preserve something I found repulsive. Might as well save your banana peels and coffee grinds too.
Growing Up – The Zest of The Mason Canning Jar
It wasn’t until years later when my palette began to explode and I gained an appreciation for the freshness, the zest, the unique flavors and subtleties of vegetables that I began to realize the value of canning and preserving. Tomatoes harvested at the height of the season were incredible to my young adult palette, but I also realized that buying too many would lead to a pile of rotting bounty on my counter unless I ate them quickly.
Now as a father and head of household, I too see the beauty of canning your own harvest. The chance to preserve that freshness, that plucked at the perfect moment timing is what it is all about. That, and that intoxicating sound of the vacuum being released and that satisfying pop of the seal that indicates the arrival of a delicious, epicurean time travel back to the height of the harvest.