Canning provides outlet from daily life
Canning is a tradition Terry Klenda picked up from her mother, and after several decades she sees the sealing practice as a personal release.
“When you do it at home with your mom, it’s a have-to thing and you don’t enjoy it,” she said. “You don’t enjoy washing green beans for hours on end, cutting off the tips, and stuffing them in jars. It’s just a pain in your neck.”
Now, however, she sees things differently.
“After you’ve grown them and taken care of them that long it’s just an accomplishment,” she said.
Part of the allure behind canning is that some products can’t be replicated as store-bought goods, third-generation canner Virginia Bentz said.
“A lot of people think they can just go to the store and get that stuff,” she said. “There’s no comparison between peaches you get out of a can and some that have been home-canned in a jar.”
Klenda sees it more as a means to provide something extra than as a way to save money.
“I do enjoy seeing what I’ve raised coming out of the canner, sitting on the shelves or serving it,” she said. “That’s always a neat accomplishment. It makes me think I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing.”
There’s a sense of satisfaction in hearing jars plink as they cool and start sealing, Bentz said.
“It’s kind of fun to hear that,” she said. “Then the next day, when you want to take the rings off after 24 hours, you can take the tip of a spoon, go along every lid lightly, and it’ll go plink on every one.”
Some jars make a deeper-pitched sound, which is a sign they aren’t sealed correctly and have to be used first, Bentz said.
Many canning options come down to personal preference, such as whether to can meat or whether to use a pressure cooker or a hot-water bath.
Klenda has experience with pressure cooking but prefers a hot-water bath, which she learned from her mother.
Hot-water baths consist of putting a jar of food into a pot of water, which is brought to boil. After a specified amount of time, the jar is removed, and as the water inside cools, the seal tightens.
Pressure cooking is when the jars of food are placed in a pot with at least three inches of water and a lid screwed on top. The pot is continually heated until there is enough steam and pressure to seal any jars inside.
Klenda uses a pressure cooker to can green beans because it helps with efficiency and the beans turn out well. But it makes her uneasy.
“I’m still afraid of it blowing up,” she said. “I don’t cook too much in it but I watch it like a hawk when I have it on the stove.”
Using hot-water baths comes with its trade-offs, especially during summer, Klenda said.
“It makes your kitchen hot as all get-out,” she said. “You have that water boiling all the time.”
Last modified June 24, 2020