The soundtrack of the homestead lately should be Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld, because around here, we’re doing the can-can!
Home canning is a quintessentially Alaskan activity closely associated with homesteading. It’s also very much a part of my life growing up. And yet, I’ve always managed to avoid direct involvement in the process, until now.
We’ve canned some each year that we’ve been here. Michelle used to can foods in Juneau, long before we came to the homestead. This year, however, the activity has greatly increased. We’re canning fish for the first time, as we’re catching or otherwise acquiring salmon at a better rate than before. We’re also canning strawberries, currants, blueberries, apples, cherries, and most recently, rhubarb.
My mother used to can a lot, but I learned to stay well clear of the operation. The heat, steam, and possibility of explosions, broken glass, and myriad other injuries warned me away. Since marrying Michelle, who also comes from a family of canners, it was always easier to let her do it, although I’ve often been recruited over the years as an unskilled assistant.
This year, for some reason, it’s different. I’m really getting into it, to the point that I’m considering canning on my own! Like most tasks, it’s not as complicated as it looks. Yes, much care must be taken to arrive safely at a sterile, storable product, but that’s not so hard that I can’t do it. The payoff is worth the effort, especially knowing that so many of the foods we’re enjoying now will be available to enjoy in other seasons!