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Share blessings of a bountiful harvest

Bonnie Simmerman • Nov 4, 2013 at 10:17 AM

Harvest time is a beautiful time of the year. The colors of fall and the nip in the air are invigorating. The freezer is full, and the shelves in the basement are loaded with jars filled with wonderful fruits and vegetables that came from our (I should say my husband’s) garden. He is the gardener and I am the canner and preserver. Canning and freezing fruits and vegetables have been a big part of my summer activities for many years. The time and energy spent doing the tasks are well worth it when winter comes.In my collection of cookbooks, there is a book titled “Blue Book of Canning and Freezing” that was passed down to me from my mother. It was written in 1943 and put out by the Ball Jar Co. It tells everything you need to know about preserving food and has been very helpful. I can tell which pages my mother used the most from the splatters of food on them. There is also a little slip of paper attached to one page with her recipe for pear preserves that became one of my favorite recipes. My first canning experience was with tomatoes, and my mother wrote me a letter with detailed instructions on how to can them using the open kettle method. From there, I learned to use the hot-water bath method, and finally a wonderful pressure canner was purchased, which saves much time and energy. In my opinion, some foods work better for canning and some are better for freezing. Green beans seem to be much better when canned, while corn, whether on the cob or cut off, is much better when frozen. The secret is to get the vegetables at just the right stage of ripeness in order to have great- tasting meals. Besides freezing vegetables, the wild blackberries and raspberries that grow on our farm are great for the freezer and a real treat in the winter. Many of us who grew up a number of years ago remember that our families lived off the land and depended very little on “store-bought” food. Hogs were killed and the meat preserved in various ways. Beef cattle were taken to the market to be slaughtered and then packaged for the freezer. All types of fruits and vegetables were canned or dried. Children ate what was put on the table every meal with very little snacking in between. You seldom heard much about children being obese. Men and women ate heartily because they worked very hard and needed the extra nourishment. Some gardens in our area may not have produced much this past summer due to the abundance of rain, but ours did very well. My husband planted some seed potatoes left over from last year and they produced a bumper crop. One of our tomatoes weighed 13?4 pounds. I told him to plant only one pepper plant and it is still bearing — giving us enough in the freezer for the entire year. With beans, tomatoes, apples, grapes, potatoes, peppers and berries, we have eaten well and will continue to do so in the winter.Many places in our country have not had the wonderful harvest that we have. The fires in California, the drought in Texas, and the floods in Colorado surely did wreak havoc on many plants and gardens. Rough weather in other parts of the country affects our food supply. Because of this, having a garden and preserving food seems a sensible thing to do. As the Thanksgiving season comes, we should be thankful for the weather we have had and the harvest we have enjoyed and will continue to enjoy during the winter months. Those of us who have been fortunate enough to reap a bountiful harvest should be willing to share with those less fortunate. There are various churches that serve Thanksgiving meals to the needy and a number of food banks in the area who always need extra food items at this time of the year. Enjoy what nature has enabled you to have, and share what you can with others.Bonnie Simmerman of Jonesborough is a retired elementary school teacher.

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