Everyone knows how delicious is the taste of carefully home-canned produce from the family Vegetable Garden, but as a rule she cannot forget even for a moment the labor which Canning costs the women of the household. I myself have a small Vegetable Garden and do my Canning without assistance, three or four quarts at a time. Those who enjoy seeing their closet shelves fill with ranks of crystal jars as the Summer advances, will not find the work too hard; but for others who are not constituted for such old-fashioned domestic activity, a woman hired for the day, once a week, will nicely take care of the extra output of a small garden.
The Bean Family is important among the green vegetables for winter use. String beans of the variety known as Tender Green are stringless, extra large, and will melt in the mouth even when the pods are five inches long. Not until the individual beans grow so large that they bulge the pod into misshapen swellings, do these super beans lose their tenderness, and they forfeit none of their juicy flavor in home panning. These of course will be planted in rotation so that a series of bean crops come on from early Summer until frost. Even in sections where the Mexican bean beetle is rampant, this variety will produce several good heavy pickings before the pest gets the better of them.
Wax Beans can also be canned successfully. Personally I prefer to concentrate on the Tender Green which I consider superior both in quality and flavor.
The Pole Lima is another excellent bean for canning, and extra large plantings will be needed to provide a supply for this purpose. Picked while young and tender, and canned in pint or quart jars depending on the size of the family, lima beans will be the piece de resistance of your winter stores. Bought canned limas have a strange, foreign flavor which is most unappetizing. Home-preserved limas, if picked while young and green and canned immediately, will prove far superior to fresh winter limas purchased in the luxury markets.
Early or Late Peas, if you are lucky enough to have a bumper crop, will form another deluxe section of the canning shelf.
Asparagus may be added to the supply of winter canned goods if a large bed has been planted with this delicious green vegetable.
Spinach when canned is not quite so good a substitute for the fresh greens as are some vegetables I have mentioned, but it is quite practical to can it at home. Especially if there are young children to be fed, you may wish to try this. Depend upon it, that the home-canned product is definitely superior to tin-canned spinach, purchased at the store. The New Zealand spinach which bears all Summer long will provide plenty of greens for canning.
Baby Beets and Baby Carrots are a real treat when canned at home. These vegetables, planted in rotation as they are in most gardens, often get ahead of the family, as root crops produce abundantly. The mature beets and carrots are more appetizing if eaten freshly picked; but when the new rows approaching maturity are being thinned, put up a few cans of the tender babies, and there will be a luxury in store for you next Winter.
All the vegetables so far mentioned are delicious if heated in their liquid, drained, and sautéed for five minutes in butter with seasoning, just before they are served.
OTHER CANNING POSSIBILITIES
Corn is a staple of which everyone wants an ample stock for cold weather. It is well to plant an extra crop of one of the Golden Bantam hybrids for canning. I make it a rule to can corn in pint jars,-as my family is small,-and in two ways. I cut the young corn from the ears and can in the usual way for use as a regular vegetable, and then I utilize all the ears which have passed the perfection of the early “milk” stage by grating them and canning for use in fritters. For this purpose grated mature corn tastes better than younger kernels cut from the ears.
Squash: If the squash borer has not yet reached your locality, you will want to plant a fine long row of Italian Zucchini vines and will have more fruit than you know what to do with. When the family have eaten all they possibly can, creamed, boiled, French-fried, etc.’ put up a dozen or so cans of the tender boiled pulp. It is surprising how springlike this tastes in Midwinter, served swimming in butter.
Pumpkin pulp can be canned in exactly the same manner.
Pimentos, when red and ripe may also he canned at home, so it is worth while to set in a few extra plants to be put away in jars for winter use.
Tomatoes of course can be successfully preserved by anyone,-and it is surprising how many cans even a small family will use in a Winter. The broken, imperfect fruit can be made into juice and put up in sealed bottles; and the round solid tomatoes are carefully skinned and canned whole in large-mouthed jars, so that they may be used in vegetable salad or even prepared as fried tomatoes during the Winter. After the plants begin to bear in July if good-sized plants are set out as soon as frost danger is past there is never any trouble about getting enough tomatoes to can. It is just a question whether the strength of the canner will hold out until frost.
Pickles can be made from the home garden and it is well to plant extra cabbage plants, onions, peppers, and cucumbers with these delicacies in mind. Make the pickles at a time when there are many green tomatoes on the vines for they are one ingredient to be found in most recipes.
Though this is first and foremost an article on canning vegetables, I cannot leave the subject without a word about the fruits which may be planted with a view to early bearing.
Rhubarb canned in glass is a grateful change of menu in Winter. Young stalks are chosen and the canning is done during the plant’s spring abundance. Later on, though there are many stalks available, they are too tough to can really well.
Grape Juice prepared at home is something I would now find it hard to do without. Grape juice is an expensive item to purchase. Those who have their own Concord grape vines find it absurdly economical to make and can at home. Not only is it always welcome as a beverage for entertainment, but it is an invaluable treatment for colds and grippe during the winter months. Even a small family can use a tremendous quantity of it. I would urge every fruit lover to plant grapevines and to use every available bunch for this nourishing, refreshing, and healthful drink.
Blueberry bushes may be planted to divide flowers from vegetables and will serve a quadruple purpose. First, they form a pleasant, hedge-like screen. Second, their masses of small white, bell like blossoms are as decorative as any purely ornamental shrub. Third, they provide wonderful fresh fruit; and last but not least if canned for winter use they form the nucleus for marvelous puddings and pies.
Currants, Blackberries, Raspberries,and other bush fruits, will servo in the same way though they are less easy to raise.
Both the State Agricultural Colleges and the U. S. Department of Agriculture publish yearly Bulletins on Home Canning. Everyone who cans vegetables and fruits will want to have late issues of these on hand when the canning season opens. New discoveries are being made yearly on the subject, and correct modern methods save labor and spoilage.