Monday, 13 January 2014

sauce day


Preserving for me, means so much more than simply putting food away in bottles. Although that aspect of it is pretty great. With a day of work, you can squirrel away surplus produce to be safely stored on your pantry shelf for years. But for me, the real joy in canning comes from the memories, the history and that connection with those who've come before me.

A few years ago my mum came around to see me, carrying some dusty old boxes. I couldn't believe it when I opened them up to find her collection of Fowlers Vacola jars inside, a collection that had actually once been my grandmother's. Oh the life those bottles have had and the work they have done, if only they could talk! Many of my own childhood memories and family history are entwined with those jars. On a hot summers day we would gather around to peel the China Pears and cut the freestone seedling peaches that grew on the farm, the adults carefully coring and seeding them out. Then, with small precise hands that could fit in through the narrow top openings, it would be my job to carefully arrange the fruit in pretty lines. My mother, dressed in her apron, would stand sweaty browed over the hot stove as she boiled sweet syrup. The hot liquid then poured over the fruit before the jars were sealed and put in the big old pot.





It's not just my childhood memories held in those bottles. Those bottles tell the story of my family. Of my grandparents, living on a meagre income, but with a determination to feed their family as best they could. My grandfather's massive garden that was planted to ensure his children never felt the side squeezing hunger he had experienced during the Depression. My grandmother meticulously filling those bottles, making certain her children would eat well, should the garden ever suffer a poor season. Those number 20 bottles are particularly special to my mother, as only a few of them would be filled with the season's precious cherry crop and would have to be shared amongst her siblings throughout the year.

Over this last weekend, we put those dear old bottles to work once again, creating all new memories for the next generation of our family. The children ran happily around us and watched as we worked to put 30 kilograms of tomatoes away for another year. This season they'll carry the children's favourite tomato sauce/ketchup, our family pasta sauce and some tomato passata to warm our stews on a cold winter's night. Oh those wonderful bottles and the job they do, feeding our bodies as well as our souls. I have a sneaking suspicion those bottles have many more years of good work to do yet.

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15 comments:

  1. Wow, you have been busy. I remember my mum with her Fowlers Vacola set. I wonder what happened to it all those years ago. I would love to have it now. I noticed your Oliver + s patterns. Aren't they gorgeous? I love making things my my little granddaughters and often see the Oliver + s patterns on the net.

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    1. Oh I adore the Oliver + S patterns. They are my favourite children's patterns to sew from! Love it even more when they put them on sale for half price :)

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  2. Had a look around your blog and I LOVE it. Your sewing projects are beautiful and canning....be still my heart!
    Found your through down to earth. Hello

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    1. Hi Eileen! So nice to have you here :) Thank you so much for your kind words! Rhonda's blog is on my must read list everyday.

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  3. How special are those jars! They are very beautiful jars, I wish I could find some like those. It wonderful to keep those memories and pass them down. : )

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    1. Thanks Sharon! Do you do much canning in the summertime?

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    2. Yes, all summer long as well as the veggies are coming in. It's wonderful to have the garden goodies right now in cold weather.

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  4. I would love a Fowlers kit of my own, but sadly I am relegated to preserving using recycled jars and a big pot on the stove, it does the job well enough for me though.
    Can I ask if you remember what was done with the china pears? My FIL has two china pear trees that are literally weighed down with fruit, and nobody touches them other than the flying foxes. A fortnight ago I made some china pear jelly with them, but I am curious to know what else I could do with them.
    Thanks
    Cassandra

    PS: I came over from Rhonda's :) (don't you just love her blog)

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    1. Thanks for coming over to my blog Cassandra! We always preserved the china pears simply peeled and cored with a sugar syrup over them. They needed quite a bit of time in the Fowlers Vacola as they are super hard and they come out a bit like quinces, pink and delicious. I did them last year in a vanilla bean syrup and may do them that way again this year. I think you could do loads of things with them though, they are full of potential.

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    2. Thanks for the response, I was unsure if they would male a good 'eating' fruit, they are so hard and seemingly under-ripe, that they seemed in-edible if you know what I mean. They did make a great jelly though, sweet, sticky and a deep red colour. I will think more on what I can do with them.
      Thanks again
      Cassandra


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    3. They are a wonderful eating fruit when preserved! One of my favourites :) Just remember to cook them until they are pink.

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  5. What wonderful photos of your bottling session. If those bottles and jars could talk ...

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    1. Thank you! Oh yes, I'd love to hear all the untold stories they could tell! I'm sure they've got some gems :)

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    2. Can you use these jars in a water bath canner?

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    3. Yes! That is the type of preserving I do in a water bath!

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