Now I don't know where jar flies got their name...whether it is their "jarring" sound, or if some curious soul once tried to catch some in a jar...but, connection or not, I'm going to talk about canning jars now. How's that for a transition?!
But before I get too far into this little discussion, I just have to clear my conscience some. So, confession time (head hanging low in shame)...I don't can. Never have. Maybe never will! (Okay, that last sentence is a bit of an exaggeration...some day when I'm sitting around with very little to do, maybe I'd like to try it. But aren't those "very little to do" days awfully hard to come by?) I'm more of a freezer girl (prefer the taste)...and let me tell you, I've got some very fond memories of eating my Kentucky mamaw's frozen homegrown strawberries and cream corn. But, in all fairness, canning has its place…and it certainly has a huge place in Appalachian history and heritage. And home canned garden items are certainly better than those from a store! Now I know that canning is not exclusive to Appalachian culture. Once upon a time, canning was a way of life throughout much of America...particularly rural America. If you worked hard to grow your own food, you had to preserve it somehow.
|Aunt "Oh So Sweet's" Appalachian garden…I see some tomatoes nearly ready for a cannin' jar!|
When I was growing up, my mother was one of those women with Appalachian roots who was keeping the canning tradition alive. She canned all the time. If the folks in our northern town would have seen the shelves lining our basement walls filled with all the homegrown canned goods, they may have asked if we were planning for World War III! Ever heard that old Barbara Mandrell song, "I Was Country When Country Wasn't Cool?" Back then, I didn't know of anyone else around us that canned their own food items…it just wasn't a "popular" thing to do apparently. But you know what is so neat?…all the old ways seem to have come back around. There is now a huge "grow your own food" movement, and in turn, preserving that bounty has once again become a popular focus. For example, check out this great little list from the Ball company of places around the country that offer canning classes. Hope you find one from your state on the list! Canning has certainly regained some of its popularity…and being "country" is cool. But now we knew that all along, didn't we?!
How about you? Did you, or someone from your family in Appalachia, keep the tradition of canning alive? Why not give it a try yourself if you never have? And, yes, I promise to give it a try one of these days too! What a fun project it would be to try with older kids, to teach them about an aspect of their Appalachian roots. Check out this great article, "Canning with Children" from the Canning Across America website. You know, we've got to teach those young ones where they're from, so they have some idea of where they're going!
Well, the fact that I have never actually tried canning yet certainly hasn't stopped me from paying homage to the canning traditions of my Appalachian heritage. I love having some old canning jars around to decorate with. I am so blessed to have a big old half gallon jar that used to belong to my mamaw from Kentucky.
|My mamaw's old mason jar filled with cinnamon sticks!|
|My mamaw's old warmhouse|
Of course, I love heading to antique stores and looking for all kinds of pieces that are reminiscent of my mountain heritage...and good old mason jars are some of those pieces I enjoy finding. Here is a nice blue set I found that I keep in my kitchen.
Are you the crafty sort? If so, you've probably noticed that mason jar craft ideas are everywhere anymore. So if you are looking for some cute ideas for any heirloom or antique finds you happen to have, check out Country Living's 50 Best Ways to Use Mason Jars. So many adorable ideas! And bonus, there is even a link to a "beginner's guide to preserving your own foods," in case you want to go ahead and give that actual canning a try!
And if you do have any old canning jars around your place, it's always fun to find out the age of those jars. This Living Homegrown site has a great little chart you can use to help identify the time period of your Ball mason jars. I was so thrilled to find that my mamaw's half gallon jar I mentioned above dates from the period 1923-1933! LOVE that!
Okay...here comes the best part of this post...because free printables are always a wonderful thing! And, boy, did I ever have fun creating this free Appalachian themed canning jar printable for you!