Several years ago, I decided I wanted to learn how to can. I’m not a seamstress, I don’t crochet, nor do I make my own bread. (Although, my Philosopher makes awesome scratch biscuits!). I have this romantic notion of quilting--thanks to growing up around my Nana’s Friday afternoon quilting group; but, while I excel at the “fellowship” aspect of that event, my actual quilting skills are non-existent. So, thanks to Tamarin and her canning heritage, I learned the art of preserving and canning.
Since that first tutorial, jars of strawberry jam (and syrup, on the first attempt), green and red pepper jelly (another Nana influence), and apple butter have emerged. Green and red pepper jelly are quite festive in color and make excellent Christmas gifts! Paired with cream cheese on your favorite cracker--yumminess. But, I digress...
This year, we decided to grow cucumbers. They have taken over their garden plot, fuzzy vines reaching out to greet their next-door tomato neighbors. Of course, a surplus of cucumbers means plenty of pickles. Not just any pickles--bread and butter pickles. The recipe takes several days as you combine the cukes with sliced onions, pickling salt, a few garlic bulbs, and a layer of cracked ice--and refrigerate it overnight. Then, the real fun begins. Mixing together sugar (you don’t want to know how much), apple cider vinegar, mustard seed, celery seed, and turmeric, the smell of the soon-to-be boiling concoction takes me back. Back to my Nana’s kitchen. Isn’t it wonderful how certain smells just transport you somewhere else?
When the pickles come out of the water-bath canner, I hear the sound that lets me know that all has gone well--a nifty “pop” that indicates that the jars have sealed, and whatever is inside, is preserved and delicious, Lord willing. It is a process, it takes time, it cannot be rushed. I like that.
I would not have won the Senior Superlative for “Most Likely to Can Something”. In fact, I don’t recall daydreaming about canning something while I was attending SGA meetings, going to graduate school, or attending professional conferences in fabulous cities like Savannah or Hiltonhead. It simply proves that God has a delightful sense of humor--and His ways are mysteriously wonderful.
And, I think Nana would be proud of my pickles. Perhaps, I’ll try sewing on a button.