Loud clanking noises.
HOT steaming rising.
Pretty, clear glasses.
Shiny new rings.
Soiled dish cloths.
The magical pop!
A musty smell.
A dark basement light only by small windows and a pull chain light bulb.
Odd looking things floating in liquid.
All made with love.
This is how I remember canning.
My grandmother, whom I admire, and miss very much, did it all. All of the descriptions above are what I remember from those experiences. I remember being terrified of the pressure cooker she used; the “ticker” on top ready to blow any minute always had my eye. Her jars always looked so pretty, even though they were very similar to the ones used now, just that she was holding them with her strong, smooth wrinkly hands. I could walk you through some of those late summer visits to her black and white kitchen with its red vinyl table and chairs. Of course the basement was where she kept the rewards from her hard work. It was a dark, low ceiling basement with a musky smell and a pull chain light.
Flash forward a few years and I have memories of possibly the same pressure cooker, same jars but different kitchen and younger hands. This time it is my mother using the skills her mom had taught and using the same recipes. The smell of vinegar has never changed. The taste of pickling salts hasn’t changed either. And best of all, the LOVE is still the same!
A couple of weeks ago, I got to share this experience with my mom. I brought over the multitude of cucumbers I had picked from my garden and we did an experimental batch of Carrot Cucumber Relish. We decided I might be better off if we didn’t mess with the pressure cooker the first time; so we used a hot bath method instead.
Carrot Cucumber Relish
Makes 2 ½ pints
2 ½ cups cucumber
1 ½ cups carrots, peeled
1 cup onions, peeled and cut into chunks
2 tsp. salt
Grind all vegetables in food processor or blender. Stir in salt and let stand for about 3 hours.
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup cane sugar
1 ½ tsp. mustard seed
1 ½ tsp. celery seed
Bring ingredients to a boil and add ground vegetables. Simmer for 20 minutes. Once cooked pour appropriate amounts into hot sterile jars and seal.