austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

So exercise those choppers on some good hard food

There's nothing quite like the start of canning season as reminder you haven't got time for canning, particularly with the modern obligation to be bored by at least three forms of stimulus at all times. You might also object you can't go canning because you're not grandmom and it's not the War Years, but your grandmom wouldn't put up that kind of excuse. Besides, it's all time management, another thing you haven't got time for. I haven't either but that's no reason not to pontificate at length, since there are three other things I should be sort of paying attention to.

The first time-management step is respecting growing cycles. Suppose you want to can apples: there's no sense starting until the apples are ready. You'll be left staring hungrily at the tree, aware the Tivo is in the living room, slowly recording everything, ready to sneer at you for not having watched as many short comedies starring Zazu Pitts as it thinks you should. Worse, you might notice you don't have an apple tree.

So you'll have to plant one, maybe on your property, and wait for it to grow to maturity. I'd have to actually look up how long it takes apple trees to mature, so I'll guess like me it takes over forty years to not get that close, so you can take care of other projects first. Put away your apple-canning technology for now. First canning chore: done!

The next time-management trick is matching your canning to your eating. Consider that big pile of string beans. At my consumption rate one can of string beans should last me until the heat-death of the universe; therefore, I can use the jar left over from twenty years ago unless someone opened it. To keep people from opening undesired jars, put a fresh label around it and put autographs all over it. Eventually the mass of signatures will convince people the jar is actually a precious collectible and it will go untouched.

This will last until one of your descendants finally has it appraised and discovers all the signatures were forged, badly, by you. ``I thought there was something suspicious'', your descendant will say, ``in the 1998 preserves being signed by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, William Shakespeare, Button Gwinnett, Ghengis Khan, and Sharon Astyk'', but your descendant will fail at trying to save face. Go ahead: laugh now. You should have put a little ``Gotcha!'' sticker inside the lid. I'd say go do that now except that gets the jar open again.

Then there's Brussels sprouts, which you don't want to can because against my advice you're hoping to compress them into diamonds. Your choice, I suppose, even if it is wrong. But once you have turned your Brussels sprouts into diamonds there's no sense preserving them, as they're delicious already and will keep indefinitely with a sprinkling of salt. Longer if you sprinkle the salt on the diamonds.

Another time-management trick is not canning everything at once. Instead of one big canning session you can have dozens of little canning sessions, all of which take just as long. That doesn't seem to be getting us anywhere. Let me check my notes. No, that's right, don't can everything at once, unless your family really gets hungry in winter for your apricot-milk-egg-pickle-homemade ice cream-corn-diamond-pumpkin-blueberry-lettuce-other diamond-cashew-peach-cherry-walnut-peanut butter-cranberry blend, or if you use this combination to ward off burglars. Instead you can can --- you can might --- you might can whatever happens to be in season, which this time of year is dead grass underneath inflatable pools.

Next is skipping unneeded safer canning steps. Is it really necessary to blanch your broccoli? Is it even possible to blanch broccoli? Is blanching something you actually do to anything, and if so, has it got any relation to canning? Finding out would require making any effort to learn. If I excise that simple step I can be done with broccoli now. If you don't think that's just in time we're not going to have any useful discussion.

See how simple it can be?

Trivia: By 1818 Bryan Donkin's canning factory was producing tins of corned beef, boiled beef, carrots, mutton and vegetable stew, veal, and soup. Source: Food In History, Reay Tannahill.

Currently Reading: Car Wars, Robert Sobel.


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