by Emily D. Wood
For as long as I can remember, my mother and all of her sisters have been “canners.” Every summer, when the garden starts coming in, she gets the canner going. Some of the main items she cans are vegetable soup, sauerkraut and green beans.
There’s just something special about canned green beans from the garden. My mother and her sisters would often plant a couple of very large gardens and then split the vegetables. They took turns picking beans, and their gardens always produced enough for everyone who wanted to take part in picking and maintaining them.
Canning has been an important part of my heritage here in the South. When my mother was growing up, if her own mother had not canned their food, there would have been winters with little to nothing to eat. I’ve had an appreciation for preservation instilled in me, and I now recognize the value of putting away food for the winter. Sure, we can simply go to the grocery store and grab a can of green beans, corn, etc., but not only do home-canned veggies taste better, they’ve already been “paid for” by hard work.
My family has never suffered a time when we didn’t have food. I give that credit to the strong women who taught all of us the importance of being able to grow food and preserve it for later. There’s a special value in watching and learning these skills from hard-working, Southern women.
I have not yet taken on the role of “canner” in my family. I’ve still got some learning to do but hope to be able to pass this valuable art down to my own family one day.
Intern Emily D. Wood is a recent graduate of Troy University’s English department on the Dothan Campus. Find out more about her in our Contributors section.