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A run on canning items

It appears that canning supplies are among the things that have been hit by the pandemic. I, personally, have not looked for lids or jars, but I noticed that some are being offered for sale through the classified. That tells me that they are of limited availability. Earlier when I was out shopping, I saw some canning supplies, but now that they are needed, they seem to be scarce.

We have gone through shortages before. I remember one year sugar was in short supply. You could not go to the store and just pick up a bag of sugar. If they had any five-pound bags there was a limit of what you were allowed to purchase. I chose to keep the sugar for table use and for baking.

At the time my son had several bee hives so we had our own honey. What a blessing that was! I used honey to sweeten the fruit I preserved. We had applesauce sweetened with honey. We had pears with honey and peaches. All of them were delicious. My nephew wondered how come my fruit tasted different than that his mother put up. I told him I used honey. He very much enjoyed what I had done. I even used it for my plums and cherries. Thank goodness for those beehives!

The lack of sugar also impacted my baking.

We had a lot less cookies, pies, and cakes. Honey changes the texture of many baked items so that was not always an option. Purchasing sweet treats was not an option either because of the expense. We just did without. Sometimes my mother came over to visit and brought along some sweet treats from a bakery that was near her home. That was a real treat. The children were usually on hand to help her bring things into the house because they knew she would have something that they liked.

The next shortage that occurred was for canning lids. I had plenty of canning jars or at least I collected what I needed from other relatives who no longer used them. I recall going to visit Aunt Emmy.

In previous years she had canned many things. Since she was no longer canning, she gladly parted with her supplies. I, on the other hand, was very glad to get them. She had jelly jars, pints, quarts, and two-quart jars. I made good use of them that year as soon as I found some lids.

A neighbor found some lids that were different than I was used to, but they worked. The rubber seal was separate from the lid — not the kind with the glass lids. You had to apply the seal, then put the lid on top of the jars. Although they were not ideal, they worked. I used up my whole supply.

I tried to be efficient with my canning. I cut my plums in half so that I could fit more into each jar. The same applied to my pears and peaches. I used as many quart jars as possible thus eliminating the pints and twice the supply of lids. Although my fruit was preserved in quart jars that year, I did not have any spoilage. I not only was feeding my family of four that year, I also fed hayers so a quart would empty quickly.

I used wax on my jars of jelly to help cut down on the usage of lids. I also made freezer jam so that helped with the crisis as well. The motto of the day was “where there is a will there is a way”.

My son and his wife did a lot of canning in the past so most of my supply is gone. I gladly parted with them to help them out. I still have some jars left so I can make pickles and sauerkraut if I have the raw materials.

Some years when my son had a large garden we canned together. I remember directing the making of pickle relish one year with my foot elevated. A chair had fallen on my foot in school. The child did not mean to hurt me, but when it hit my instep it instantly swelled.

The principal wanted me to call my husband to come get me. I told her that was not possible since he would be out in the field. I drove myself home then put my foot up to cut the swelling.

That was the night we designated to make relish. I did most of the prep work with my foot elevated, then the kids had to put the relish in the jars and can them. All I could do was give the directions.

Canning did not come naturally to me. I read and reread my canning books so that I knew I was doing the right thing. I won two canning books with my entries to the Warren County Fair.

I also received one farm canning book as a gift. The farm canning book had more than canning directions. There were recipes as well. Throughout the years I have made many of the things in that book. I especially like a couple of the cookie recipes. They are large recipes that make enough cookies to take to a bunch of people.

Hope I have provided some ideas to help those who are looking for canning supplies get over this shortage.

Ann Swanson is a Russell resident. Send comments to hickoryheights1@verizon.net

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