Muse & Meander

Shaping a Genesis week from the chaos of my life

Preserving the good stuff

by +CrystalThieringer    @cdthieringer


My husband thinks I have a problem. He may be right.

Gram's pie fillingLast year I was re-introduced to canning by my friend Kim. I’ve canned before, when my Gram was alive. Homemade dill pickles make me think of her. She also had a fabulous recipe for peach pie filling but my copy seems to be missing an ingredient or a step. I can’t throw out the recipe–it’s in her handwriting, and that is reason enough to keep it. It’s so special, and there are days when I let my finger trace her words.

That connection to my heritage is one of the reasons I enjoy canning so much. There is something about it that anchors me, that connects me to the earth and to God.

We go to the market on the weekends and pay a little extra to get food that hasn’t travelled across the planet. Every week I am blessed by this bounty but it doesn’t last all year. It makes sense then to treat it as best I can. Thus the canning.

I keep sending my husband out for jars, and he keeps obliging me. Yesterday, I had to promise to stop. Soon. Right after salsa and chutney and mincemeat.

So far–we’ve made lots of jam. Blueberry-lime, Cherry-berry, raspberry-peach. I’ve anticipating the burst of flavour as we put preserved berries over frozen yogurt later this year. Blueberries with a touch of amaretto, peaches with a hint of brandy, and a wee bit of wonderful syrup for the rare times we have waffles and pancakes. There’s a spicy peach applesauce that will easily transform into a sauce for chicken or pork. There’s another peach jam that didn’t quite set, so it will become the basis for other things when I open the jars.blueberry jam

Of course, there’s the savoury side too. Jars and jars of dill pickles, dill carrots, red onions in vinegar and yesterday, roasted red pepper spread. I’m not sure I’ll make that one again because of the crazy bubbles. It’s too hard to clean the ceiling. And the light switch. And the cats.

When the days are cloudy and grey, sometimes our moods are too. The fresh burst of berries or the tartness of the no-sugar jams is a reminder that there will be other springs and summers, even if they seem so far away right now. There’s something special about sharing that joy with friends and neighbours. The gloom goes away then.

canningOften when I stand at my counter slicing tomatoes or peeling peppers, I think of my family and friends. My parents are getting older, and it’s humbling some days to realize they won’t always be there. I hope they’ll like the mix of things I’ll send to them.

Preserving the best of summer’s bounty is a bit of a science–the right acidity, the right temperature, just the right amount of time in hot water. It’s necessary to pay attention to the task, to do all I can to make the conditions right, to appreciate the rewards from the effort. If all that goes well, the jar lids snap (a most satisfying sound) and bacteria is unlikely to spoil the mix.  As long as that happens,  the treasures will be preserved for the future.

Jam and relationships. Paying attention, keeping the good stuff. I think that’s what God intended all along.


Side note–in the spirit of preserving the good stuff, there will be some behind-the-scenes changes to my site this week. Hopefully it all goes smoothly, but if there is a delay, I’m sure it will be a short one. Just wanted to let you know.

6 comments on “Preserving the good stuff

  1. childofaslan
    August 25, 2014

    It IS a most satisfying sound! Love that! Laughing at the notion of cleaning the ceiling and the kitties. 🙂 Thanks for this.

    • Crystal Thieringer
      August 26, 2014

      Thanks Roslynn. It wasn’t quite a notion though–I really DID have to clean it off. The stuff had projectile bubbles. Maybe it’s a good thing I like red?

  2. camytang
    August 25, 2014

    OMG I love this post! I wish I knew how to can. My kitchen is also a bit small so I haven’t had the room to be very adventurous. Your jams sound wonderful!

    • Crystal Thieringer
      August 26, 2014

      They are pretty great, Camy, and it’s so much fun knowing that probably half will be given away. You should try canning–or even freezer jam. That would work for you.

  3. Carolyn Studer
    August 25, 2014

    I love your light touch in mentioning spirituality in connection with the canning. I love the red pepper spread all over the cats and the lights. It’s a warm, lovely piece. Thank you!

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This entry was posted on August 25, 2014 by in What I'm thinking today and tagged , , , .

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