Thursday, October 1, 2015

Family Initiation? - Canning Meat

This post is inspired by a prompt from Reflections of a Mother's Heart
The prompt was "Tell about a canning or harvesting experience"

picture borrowed from
The Preppy Mountain Farm House
Oh, the memories of sitting on the porch swing in the cool breeze shelling peas with Grandma Dawson. What I would give to go back and do that one more time. At the time, I didn't know the privilege I had. I sure would love to be able to ask Grandma some questions. Questions about family. Questions about favorite recipes. Or just to hear her voice again.

I remember having two large gardens when we were growing up. It took a lot of food to feed the 2 parents, 6 kids, plus farmhands. In the spring, I recall rushing out to plant seeds before the rains came. Then weeding the vegetables all summer, but the harvest time was best.

Who wouldn't love the harvest? Shelling peas on the porch with Grandma and looking forward to eating fresh veggies at suppertime. I've done precious little canning as an adult and sitting here thinking of it now gets me wishing I could go back and do it once more.

There was a year or two when we even canned meat. A few chickens and a cow or two. We must have started the meat canning sometime in my teen years because I only remember doing it a few times, but my sister-in-law says it was done quite a bit. I do remember eating the canned meat. Besides for the fact that it was delicious, it made cooking really easy.

Canning beef ... that was a very big job. It was an all-day job with EVERYONE pitching in to help. The butcher lived right down the road, so he would do the butchering and then it was our job to get the meat to the house, cut it up in small pieces, and placed in the jars and ready to can before the meat spoiled.

The year I particularly remember, we were mostly all adults. It must have been around '86 or ‘87 and for some reason, we were all home. Both of my sisters had their fiancĂ©/husbands with them. And EVERYONE was put to work... even the in-laws!

Some of us did it much more often than the rest of us since they lived right there near the farm. The routine went something like this..

1. Run jars through the dishwasher. Boil lids.
2. Cut the beef into chunks.
3. Put beef chunks into jars hot from the dishwasher.
4. Add a little salt.
5. Fill jars with hot water and screw on hot lids.
6. Place in the canner. Canning time... 90 minutes
7. We canned all kinds of meat. Beef, ground beef, chicken, and ham.
8. So good to have on hand already cooked

I only remember that it was tiring work for those of us that had become “cityfied”. According to my brother-in-law, Bob it was because many of us bailed out and had 'other' things to do that day. ie. scheduled a perm, had to go to work, none of the Dawson 'Males' were around (or could be found), so it was Mom, Mandy, and a few in-laws. Bob & Tony stole away to post a sign at the road “Fresh Meat”.

Mom didn’t think it was all that funny. :)

Marcy shared with me that she preferred beef to the chicken as she did not have fond memories of butchering chickens!! YUK! Now she buys boneless chicken on sale and cans it. It makes a great chicken salad and protein to many dishes.

A few years later, I brought home my fiance', Michael. Bob and Tony thought that we ought to can meat to initiate Michael into the family. But that did not happen.

Michael lucked out of that one! 

One thing I will say is that working together creates a bond that makes you a family. Even though our families are now spread across the United States, there is still a bond that cannot be broken.

Just Reminiscing,


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