Month #10 – Preservation

Preservation: a) The activity of keeping something alive, intact, or free from damage or decay. b) The preparation of food for future use (as by canning, pickling, or freezing) to prevent spoilage.

Do you know who I’m going to discuss with this topic? If you guessed my Grandma Blair then you’d be right!

Anna Maria Morgart loved to can vegetables and she pickled beets and eggs! One of my Grandma’s jobs when I was little was getting up in the wee hours of the morning (well, probably 6 am but when I was 8 that seemed so incredibly early). She would walk over to her friend’s, Mrs. Juhas’ house (she was the mother of my dad’s good friend growing up), who had a huge garden, and they would weed that garden. As payment, Grandma got her pick of green beans (this is how stories are fabricated I’m sure – I just knew she canned lots of green beans and there is no way the little garden in the back of her house produced what we ate the rest of the year). I also use the word “job” loosely as I am pretty sure she was just paid with produce. For her it was a labor of love.

But for now, I continue. My Grandma would make homemade jelly out of grapes and strawberries, made probably 100 Mason Jars or more of green beans every year. She made pickled beets (I’ve been yearning for some as of late and I have tried what the store has, and they are okay, but they don’t have quite the same punch as what my Grandma made.

The green beans were my favorite. I don’t think I had a can of green beans from the store until the late-1990’s as we always had plenty of the jars that she canned each year. My sister remembers her also freezing corn, canning tomatoes (they were the base for so many yummy homemade soups), pickles (mainly bread and butter, but a few dill) and peppers (this I remembered as well).

With the leftover juice from her pickled beets, she would make pickled eggs. I don’t recall enjoying these too well, but I have an aversion to yolks. The only eggs I like are scrambled. My mom claims this was all in my head, as a child she would tell me she took the yolks out of the soft-boiled eggs, and I’d eat it. I didn’t like them, but she told me she took them out, so I trusted her, how was I to know she was lying (because you know, lying is bad, but she never saw my point. Anyhow, I still only eat scrambled eggs though I like whites only of fried eggs – and I use to love the Egg White Delight McDonald’s had on their menu until they took it off their menu. Sigh.).

Grandma would keep the food for herself, but she’d give away just as many, if not more. It’s like I said, I never had a green bean from the store until 1997 to 1998. My Grandma was diagnosed with macular degeneration, so she was unable to do some of the things she did for years, like working in the garden and canning. My mom attempted to buy green beans from a local produce place and can one year, but I think it was more than she wanted to take on.

I never thought to take a photo of canned goods when I was little so I found this photo on the Library of Congress website. Mullen, Patrick B. Florence Cheek with quilts and canned food, Traphill, North Carolina. United States Traphill Wilkes County North Carolina, 1978. Traphill, North Carolina, None , 8. Photograph.

Did your relatives can? Share with me the yummy veggies that you experienced!

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