Wednesday, July 7, 2010

cannin' maters ... a family affair

My family has been canning tomatoes for as long as I can remember.  I think it was actually my Daddy's sister that got Mama started with the recipe for what we call tomato relish, but over the years she has tweaked and fine-tuned the process to make it her own. 

Now that I am an adult and no longer being forced to can tomatoes, I enjoy the process.  It takes time and a lot of chopping, but it is almost always done with several family members involved which makes the work go faster and the time pass more quickly.  All in all, I find it an enjoyable process.

There are still remnants of my childhood in the process, though.  One thing hasn't changed ... Mama is still in charge!  She freely gives orders to anyone helping, beginning with my Daddy and working her way through any of her kids and their spouses and then on to my kids (if they happen to be close enough to the house).  Of course, she is the one who knows the process inside and out and no one really minds her being in charge.  Actually, I kind of prefer it that way.  Sometimes it is nice just to do as you are told.

For years, Mama was the only person who would actually handle the cutting of the tomatoes.  Any one of us might be the one popping the skins or chopping the veggies, but Mama always handled the actual tomatoes.  Mostly, this was because she didn't trust any of us kids to not accidentally get a bad tomato into the mix.  While this was a distinct possibility back then, the tradition continues now that we are adults (and capable of smelling a bad tomato).  It makes her nervous to watch me (or anyone else) and it makes me nervous knowing that she is watching me and knowing that she can cut them at least twice as fast as I can.

Just for the record, I could can tomatoes at home in my own kitchen, but I would much prefer keeping it a family affair.  There is something satisfying about spending the day in the home where I grew up, doing the things with my husband and kids that I did with my parents as a kid.  I can't exactly describe it, but I know that it is something I will carry with me even after this process does move to my own kitchen sometime in the future.
The kids did get to have a little fun while we were working last Saturday.  They have discovered the joy of complete abandon while riding their bikes down a steep hill through the trees and into the back yard.  This is something my brothers enjoyed when we were kids, but I don't remember ever doing it myself.  Seems as though I do remember one of those trips down the hill ending in an emergency room trip for one of the boys, but I am trying not to think about that!

Uncle Bob (my oldest brother) riding D on the back of his bike and LB heading back up the hill.

JW getting ready to head back up for another trip down the hill.


Rie said...

I know what you mean, Jennifer. It sometimes feels strange for me to be canning in this kitchen that once belonged to mama.

I tried to get her to come over today while we were doing the jelly but she wouldn't. She says we'll do pickles next week, but I'm not holding my breath.

Getting her out is getting harder and harder.

Felicity said...

It looks like the kids had fun. And it looks so beautiful there!! It's nice to have a family tradition like that - special! I tried canning tomatoes once to make relish - it came out ok, but was a lot of work!!

Donna said...

This is such a beautiful post, Jennifer! Thanks for sharing some of your history...I loved the pictures of the kids enjoying the good ole' outdoors!

Blessings to you today~

KTElltt said...

"Sometimes it is nice just to do as you are told."

So, so true. I often wish I was little again. Life would be so much easier. I envy my children the ease of just learning to obey. It's a hard task and yet once learned, life is so much easier. Y'all did a GREAT job!!!!

KTElltt said...

"Sometimes it is nice just to do as you are told."


Y'all did a great job!!! Our tomatoes are almost all in. This weekend brings tomato-basil-garlic sauce and canning at my house...

Peggy said...

Seeing all those tomatoes reminds of about 36 yrs ago when I first married. My sister-in-law and I canned so much when it came time to eat everything that winter I almost hated the site of anything that was raise in a garden.