In Western North Carolina, home canning was common place. Pretty much everyone I knew put up at least tomatoes and peaches every year. Everyone had a garden, or at least went to the Farmer’s Markets. Most of my friends had chickens and many of them had goats or cows. Practically our entire homeschool group was in 4-H!
So I learned to garden and can. I learned to crochet and to quilt. I made my own bread (often from wheat that I had either had freshly ground, or ground myself!), and we were pretty much prepared, at any time, to be totally self-sufficient. We were not unique in any way, because, like I said, most of my friends could do all of those things, and frequently, more! So I never really gave it much thought. Until we moved to Austin.
Austin is not only a large city, it is known as “Little Silicon Valley”. It seems to me that everyone here works with computers. Software designers. Code writers. Stuff like that. And nobody does any of that old-fashioned agricultural stuff!
Therefore, I have felt sort of like a fish out of water since we moved here. Not only is the climate rather unfriendly toward vegetable gardening, but I have a tiny little yard. But I am not going to give up that easily! We went down to the Barton Creek Farmer’s Market and I talked to the guy selling apples. He was selling tiny little 3 pound bags of apples for $8.00! So I asked him if he had any ‘seconds’, and explained to him that I wanted to can them. He brightened right up, and told me to come back next week, and he’d have a bushel of seconds for me, for only $20.00! (For any of the non-farm types out there, a bushel = 48 pounds).
So, I went back a week later, and true to his word, the apple guy had a bushel set aside for me. I took it home and started ‘putting up apples’. I canned 2 runs of Spiced Apple Butter, 2 runs of Spiced Apple Jelly, and 1 run of Spiced Apple Maple Jam. It was absolutely heavenly to have all of my jars and supplies cluttering up my kitchen! Our house smelled wonderful, and, if I do say so myself, the results of my labors were very, very tasty! It made me feel more at home.
It still bothers me that I have to rely on others to grow my food for me. In North Carolina, while I did buy most of our food, I knew that if I ever needed to, I could always grow my own vegetable crops with pretty decent success. But at least there are farmer’s markets, and I can get home grown food there.
The funny part to me, though, is that so many of my friends here in Texas are so impressed that I can. They are all so amazed, and one of them even called me a “Pioneer Woman”! (Not sure how to take that one, so decided it was a compliment, haha!) My grandmother canned everything from fruits and vegetables to Quail! So I am very happy to carry on a family tradition. Of course, I can!!