Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The right tools for the job

August came, and right on schedule, so did the tomatoes. We've been waiting for this. Our cupboards were bare. But dishpans full of tomatoes to can every third day can be daunting.

Through a serendipitous occurrence a few years ago, we were forced to turn on the old gas range in the basement - the one that came with the house, the one I never anticipated turning on. Our kitchen remodeling was supposed to be done well before August. Instead, the kitchen was torn up throughout the entire month. And tomatoes don't wait.

Fortunately, we had that old stove. Fortunately, it worked. Now I see that the old stove in the basement is perfect for the canning task. Far better than the solid surface electric range in my kitchen. Also perfect are the pans I inherited a few years ago from my mother who canned hundreds (I'm not exaggerating) of quarts and pints of produce every summer for 60 years.

I've canned a couple of dozen jars of tomatoes and salsa each summer over the years, but I've always cobbled the process together from my regular kitchen pans. It all worked but it wasn't easy. Not like using Mom's pans, which all miraculously seem to be exactly the right size and perfectly suited for every canning task.

So now when I start to carry tomatoes into the house, I also pull out Mom's pans. I marvel how much easier having the right tool for the task makes things. When I use her pans, I feel as though Mom is right there with me helping.

That old stove, those old pans, Mom and me. Canning again. It's all just right.


  1. You and my sister Annie are the canning queens! I am going to ask her to be my mentor, providing her extra hands while I soak up knowledge! The girls in my family prepared the fruits and vegetables while mom accomplished the jar preparation, pressure cooker, and sealing. Mary use to can before her four kids became adults. She says now that she only has a kitchen because it came with the house....but that's not true! Both sisters are amazing in the kitchen. Margaret's a pretty darn good cook too...but I don't think she cans. For myself, once I am truly settled in's bring on those tomatoes baby!

    P.S. Good thing you kept the old stove!

  2. I have a sister-in-law who says, "When Del Monte stops canning tomatoes - that's when I'll start!" Canning is some work but mostly it's time consuming. Doing it - and even more enjoying the results all year - provides us a great sense of satisfaction. You just can't beat a fresh tomato.