Some of my grandmother’s recipes are treasured heirlooms.
She made chocolate cream pies, for example, with a double-boiler. I want to pass this recipe along to my children, together with old-fashioned cooking methods my Mamaw used.
When it comes to home canning, however, my grandmother’s methods are outdated and may be dangerous! The USDA maintains updated guidelines based on the most recent science-based information about safe home-canning practices. Antique recipes and techniques may be unsafe.
When my daughter, Tiffany, suggests we home can something together, I remind her, “This is not the time to do things the way Mamaw did them. Keep updated with the most current approved canning methods. Use only tested recipes from trusted sources and follow the directions precisely.”
I’m absolutely serious about
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number-one cause of botulism in the United States is home canning of vegetables. These germs can produce a deadly toxin in sealed jars of food. It’s important to follow science-based recommendations to avoid this illness.
Tiffany and I have canned together on several occasions. We both enjoy chatting and laughing while we work, and she appreciates learning new skills. We’ve made salsa and several batches of meatless spaghetti sauce. This time my daughter looks over my recipes and selects one called “Peach Rum Sauce.”
We schedule a day
for the fun!
She purchases ingredients on the way to my house and walks through my front door loaded with bags of produce. I’ve already washed the jars, lids, and equipment and have the items lined up on the table, ready to use.
To loosen the peach skins, I carefully drop a few fruits into a pot of boiling water for a moment and then move them to another pan with cold water. My daughter slips off the peels and roughly dices the slimy fruit.
A sweet, spicy, comforting
scent fills the kitchen.
The smell reminds me of another of Mamaw’s precious recipes. My grandmother called them ‘peach pies,’ but they’re really fried turnovers.
My attention jerks back to the present when Tiffany breaks the silence. “I wish Grammy were here to help us.”
She’s talking about my mother, who passed away years ago . . . Why does the pain still seem so new?
“I miss her and Mamaw every day,” I say while dabbing my eyes with my cotton apron.
Life is all about simple
moments like this.
When finished, we line the half-pint jars on my kitchen table. Clear glass sides reveal rich amber contents. Commercially produced metal containers don’t have the same beauty as these sparkling jewels.
The filled containers must set undisturbed for twenty-four hours to ensure a good seal between rims and lids. Tiffany won’t be able to take them to her house tonight.
“I’ll bring the jars to you in a few days,” I say. Then we carefully scour the cooking pot for remnants of missed sauce. Delicious!
“Many of the home-canned recipes can be frozen instead of canned,” I say. “Mamaw didn’t have that option.”
“Yes, I know—I make a lot of freezer jam.” Then she adds, “. . . but it’s good to know the right and safe way to home can, too.”
“That’s absolutely essential!”
“Do you think Mamaw and Grammy would be proud of us?” she asks.
My fingers fumble for her hand, and I give it a gentle squeeze. “Yes,” I affirm. “And they’d certainly want us to use the safest methods.”
For more information about home canning:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
USDA’s Complete Guide to Home Canning