We just finished picking the last of our apples from the orchard; now it’s time to start on the pears. We don’t have a big orchard here at the farm but its large enough to keep us and the family supplied with apple sauce, apple butter and pear butter all winter long.
That is IF we have done a good job of canning when the fruit is ready to be harvested in late summer. Last year we got thrown off our game because it was the first year mom wasn’t able to do her part in peeling the fruit. She absolutely loved peeling friut in the kitchen alongside her daughter even if it was a stretch for her arthritis-plagued hands. Our routine was for me to pick, mom to peel and Bess to can. This year I’ve had to do double duty by picking and sharing some of the peeling with my bride; it works but it’s just not the same without mom.
So who invented this canning art anyway? Was it Mr. Ball, Mr. Mason or Mrs. Kerr, the famous names we see on those beautiful glass “canning” jars? And the answer is, none of the above. Canning was actually a technology born out of the needs of war, not unlike today when lots of our tech has been derived from our DoD and NASA programs.
Here’s how Wikipedia describes the development: During the first years of the Napoleonic Wars, the French government offered a hefty cash award of 12,000 francs to any inventor who could devise a cheap and effective method of preserving large amounts of food. The larger armies of the period required increased and regular supplies of quality food. Limited food availability was among the factors limiting military campaigns to the summer and autumn months. In 1809, Nicolas Appert, a French confectioner and brewer, observed that food cooked inside a jar did not spoil unless the seals leaked, and developed a method of sealing food in glass jars. Appert was awarded the prize in 1810 by Count Montelivert, a French minister of the interior. The reason for lack of spoilage was unknown at the time, since it would be another 50 years before Louis Pasteur demonstrated the role of microbes in food spoilage.
In my mind, canning fresh fruits and vegetables is a real art, and, it seems to me, one that is not as popular as it used to be when we seniors were kids. Although I didn’t grow up on a farm, I remember my mom “Putting up”, which was her word for canning, fresh peaches that we enjoyed all winter long. By the way, my wife’s apple and pear butter goes even better on a piece of homemade bread in front of the woodstove in the middle of winter. I know it’s hard to think of a comforting fire while we’re still running the AC in August.
Well, ladies, here’s the challenge for today: Don’t let your canning art get lost in our generation between the microwavable and frozen food sections at Kroger’s. Keep it going so our grand kids can enjoy it too!
Photo credit to Simply recipes: to find a “How to” on canning pears follow this link!
Thanks for reading All About Seniors…..See you next week!
Bill Milby, CSA, is a Certified Senior Advisor and a Director of Visiting Angels® of Macon, a non-medical, living assistance service for seniors. If you have questions or comments about this column you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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