Canning with the Mennonites
What do you learn when you can with old world Mennonites? First you have to have the courage to ask them to teach you, that’s hard enough. Walking into the local Mennonite owned farmers market to ask if someone can teach you to can you have to wonder what they are thinking of you. Silly English woman doesn’t know the basic stuff about a kitchen, her mother must not have taught her anything. Well at least that’s what I figured was going through the young women’s head as I stood there. Just two weeks earlier I had walked into a Mennonite owned bakery not far from my home to ask if anyone could hem a dress for me, which turned out nice too. So I was hoping that I would have a similar experience. The young lady took my name and number and said she would ask around and get back to me. About a week later I got a call from a wonderful older woman who was willing to teach me. We started with salsa, she grew the tomatoes herself and we used Mrs. Wages salsa mix for the rest because she said when she makes it from scratch it doesn’t taste as good. She showed me how to blanch and peel tomatoes and that plumb tomatoes are the best for canning. She showed me how to scald the jars and set up your water bath canner which she just uses a pressure canner without the seal. As we worked we talked about gardening, children, family size and what all I wanted to learn about. She had nine children only one of whom still lives at home. This turned out to be the nice young lady from the farmers market I spoke to a week earlier. She used to can a lot more when all the kids were still at home now she only does a few things. We talked about gardens, I went on about mine explaining that this was my first year and it wasn’t nearly big enough, she talked about hers which was huge but provides for her family and some of her children’s families that share the same property. She mainly tended the flower gardens now and left the food growing, up to the younger people. We found we have more in common than we thought; we have the same views about TV, and cooking from scratch and living a more simple life when you value the land.