From Pipi’s Pasture: Fall canning at the ranch
Our son Jody and daughter-in-law Cindy have been busy canning. They have made jam using the apricots they picked from their tree and shared it with us. We spread it on zucchini bread that Cindy made from their garden zucchini. They have also been canning pickles and some tomato salsa. Their endeavors have me thinking about fall at the Morapos Ranch when I was a kid.
Mom canned green vegetables, carrots, peas, and other vegetables from our garden during the summer and then tomatoes, pickles, and fruit in the fall.
In the spring, Mom always put out some tomato plants, realizing that, because of the short growing season at that elevation, they had little chance of ripening before snowfall. However, it was nice growing them in the garden, and we would probably be able to pick a few off the vines. However, we needed a lot of tomatoes to get through the winter so our tomatoes came from Palisade — bushels and bushels of them.
The tomatoes were put out on our front porch where it was fairly cool and Mom could get them worked up before they spoiled. I can remember walking home from school to find the kitchen counter, top of the chest-type freezer, and any other available spots filled with jars and lids, a big kettle for processing, and bowls of tomatoes in various stages of preparation.
I remember that Mom would take a big bowl out to the front porch and pick through the tomatoes, selecting the over-ripe tomatoes first. These were usually turned into tomato juice. There wasn’t a better after-school treat than hot tomato juice sprinkled with salt. The more firm tomatoes were canned whole or cut up to make stewed tomatoes.
After she selected the tomatoes from the bushel baskets on the porch, Mom washed them, put them in a cheese cloth bag and dipped them in hot water. This allowed the skins to peel off easily. Then she precooked the tomatoes or put them directly into the clean, sterilized jars or precooked them —whatever the recipe called for.
After the lids were secured into place, the jars were processed in a water bath for a period of time. After that they were lined up on the counter, and we listened for the “pinging” sounds which indicated that the jars were sealed. If the jars didn’t seal they had to be processed again.
Mom followed the same routine for pickles and fruits, all of which were purchased in Palisade. She took a bowl to the front porch and sorted through fruits, like peaches, to find the over-ripe fruit that was turned into jam. Peaches were canned whole or in slices. Mom canned pears, apricots, apples, and even fruit cocktail.
Bushels of cucumbers were turned into a variety of pickles, both sour and sweet. Sometimes the cucumbers were put into crocks of brine and left in the basement for awhile before canning. Mom’s bread and butter pickles were her specialty.
I have written about canning at the ranch before, but I just couldn’t help myself. I had to write about it again. Fall is in the air.