I used to have a really large garden. One summer, I canned one hundred, yes, one hundred quarts of green beans. I dug the dirt. I planted those seeds. I weeded around those plants, and I picked each of those beans. I snapped the ends off of every single one, and then I preserved them by pressure cooker in one hundred quart Ball jars. But that was just once, many years ago.
Tomatoes and pickles are my favorite things to can, and I really didn’t expect to do either in my new life, but now I have done both. It just goes to show that the future cannot be predicted. Hoo-boy.
So, let me back up. First of all, there is nothing like home grown summertime tomatoes. Those cardboard, mealy things from Mexico are not really tomatoes. Tomato season in North Carolina (and Indiana) is glorious. Frankly, the last two summers have not produced that good of a tomato. It was something about the rain, heat, or lack thereof that stunted the ‘maters, and they just weren’t very prolific or tasty.
This year, they’re baaaack! I have been buying my tomatoes from a cart that parks at the Y on Wednesday mornings. It sells really, really beautiful produce from the Children’s Home, where there is a farm. I have been enjoying ‘mater sammies with Duke’s mayonnaise for a few weeks, now. It’s a southern thing.
Last week, a teaching friend and I got together and canned tomatoes. She had never canned before (frankly, I don’t know that many who have nowadays), and so we spent the morning making a huge mess in her kitchen, avoiding scalded skin, and having a great time “putting up” fourteen quarts and six pints of tomatoes. They looked beautiful.
When a home canner hears the “ping” of a jar sealing, it is the best music, ever. Later, I will open those jars, and stir in those lovely, delicious tomatoes in all manner of good soups. Yep. It makes summer last just a little bit longer.