When our entire family; extended included, lived at The Ranch, I asked my young daughter-in-law if she would like to learn how to can. She looked at me with her intelligent eyes that were born in a more recent era than mine and said, “But where would we get the cans?”
But that’s another story.
This one takes place in the early 1970′s when I was married with one toddler. I lived in a huge old rickety house with creaking wood floors and a kitchen the size of my first apartment. I invited Loretta over for some housewifely canning of apple sauce. It was late summer and the apples were cheap and perfect for canning. We set up the kitchen table with all our gear and got started. We felt very smarty-pants for knowing how to can and we were gonna save a boat-load of money for our hard-working hubbies.
We lined up the jars, lids, paraffin, apples, rum & coke, cinnamon and sugar. We had two huge stove-top pots to lower the jars of freshly smooshed apples into for canning. We piled apples on the table, to be cored and peeled, and placed our fresh rum & coke’s right beside our knives.
I had sorta forgotten how much work was involved in getting the apple peels off, the core and seed out and that we needed one more big bowl for the lemon and water; to put the apple slices in so they would not turn brown while we were peeling the other 400 pounds of apples. They were on sale you know.
This set us back a bit emotionally so we refreshed our rum & coke’s and sat and thought about it for a while. The peeling process alone took three rum & coke’s, so by the time we got to the coring part we decided that it was all working so well we would have a contest between us. Who could core and peel an apple the fastest? The winner got a good gulp of rum & coke. Actually the loser usually took at least a sip too just to soothe her looser feelings.
This was fun! Then we moved on to throwing the apple pieces into the lemon water…..if you missed you had to take a shot of rum. Because by this time we had run out of coke.
We were laughing hysterically by then with slices of apple and peeling all over the work table and floors. Who the hell cared? We were canners-supreme!!! We were the ultimate housewives! And we were going to save so much money by making our own apple sauce we felt at this point we could afford another bottle of rum. Just a small one of course. We had run out during the apple-dunking game.
With fresh rum & coke’s we grabbed our mashers and attacked the apple pieces. Smash! Smoosh! Squirt! We got all the lumps out and were ready for the last step. Smiling lopsidedly at each other we both grabbed our huge pot of mashed apples in one had and a big jar of cinnamon in the other. At the count of three we sprinkled the cinnamon into the pots.
Only we hadn’t noticed that the top didn’t have a sprinkle function. It only had a pour function. So half of the jar of cinnamon went pouring into the applesauce all a once. EEEK! Ok, don’t panic we told each other.
We sat looking at the brown goop in the pots and picking apple peelings out of our hair and off our aprons. Loretta started crying into her glass of rum. (we had run out of coke again) Suddenly I sat straight up and shouted, “Get back Loretta!” “All we have to do is buy more apples to add to this brown mess and it will be perfect apple sauce. Granted it will be a wee bit more apple sauce than we had planned, but home-made apple sauce nonetheless.
I don’t remember going to get the apples but we did because the next morning there stood dozens and dozens of perfectly tan-colored apple sauce on my dining room table. (we had to move out there for more work room sometime during the night as we re-peeled and re-cored the new apples)
I am pretty sure this wasn’t the last time I canned; but I know it was the last time Loretta canned. At least with me.