Thursday, November 11, 2010

Pioneering in the Modern World

When you think of pioneers you probably bring to mind images of perseverance, patience, and moving on despite facing great difficulties.

Sometimes I hear people say things like "I wish I could have been a pioneer" the thought that immediately comes to my mind is "Are you crazy?"

...but to those people who feel that they have somehow missed out on the whole pioneering experience, I have discovered how you can get the results of a 1,000 mile trek by foot, right within the comfort of your own kitchen...

It is most often "mistakenly" referred to as "Canning", what it should really be called is "Caning" (Someone accidentally added an extra "N" to the word to hide its true meaning) for those of you who don't know, Caning is a form of corporal punishment where the offender is struck with a cane several times across the back or buttocks causing severe pain.

As Canning causes similar severe back pain from standing for unending hours on the kitchen tile, Caning is an appropriate alternative word for the whole process... ( as a side note there is also a reason that people call the results of canning "Preserves"...because it preserves the pain of crossing the plains without shoes, pushing through snow up to your waist, going up hill in a 70 mile hour head wind, and dragging a handcart with a broken wheel.)

Canning (or Caning) is not for wimps, not that I want to discourage anyone who is thinking of making the effort, (it can be very rewarding) I just want to make sure you understand what your getting yourself into.

Randie and I decided in early October that we wanted to make some juice this year...(see earlier post "Life is Grape") the grapes weren't actually that hard, they juiced quickly and it ended up taking us about 8-10 hours. (we split it into 2 evenings so it wasn't that bad) we were a little tired, but ended up with almost 40 quarts of grape juice.

While we were in Utah picking up the grapes from my wife's parents, my parents wanted to know if we also wanted some apples, and we thought "wow...grape juice and apple juice", "sure, we would love to have some apples" (Here is where you should seriously think about how much stuff your going to put into your "canning handcart".

Apples are not just "Bigger" grapes, they are not even closely related. We quickly learned that Apples take almost twice as long to juice (per/batch) as the grapes did, you also have to quarter the apples so when they steam the apple juice can escape more easily.

After steaming the apples for their juice we had all this apple pulp, and not wanting to waste it, we decided to make the extra effort of making "Apple Sauce" (here is where you should decide if a side trip on your canning trek is worth it)

I have to say that whoever invented the food strainer was a genius, and should be found in the history books right next to the guy that invented the wheel. Even with the food strainer, it took forrrrrevvvvvver. I swear we would empty a box half way, and someone was sneaking into the kitchen and putting more apples in the box...we would do a batch, and the box was still half full. (sometimes you just don't want the miracle of the widow's cruz of oil that never emptied)...

To be totally honest, we were so excited about the first bottles of juice and applesauce. I felt like they should be put on display somewhere, so everyone could see what we had accomplished. But as we got further into the boxes of apples (I know when we picked them up from my parent's there were only 3, but I swear we must have canned 7 or 8 boxes) Randie and I both looked at each other and seriously contemplated tossing the remaining apples out of the handcart..(coyote's like apples right) I just couldn't bring myself to do it though, so we "girded up our loins" (scripture speak for "biting the bullet") and persevered.

I have to say that it was a great feeling as we came into valley, and we could see all the bottles lined up on the counter ready to make the final trek to our storage room down stairs....Somehow it made it all worth while, and that feeling of accomplishment still hasn't quite gone away yet.

"Was it worth it?" that is the question everyone asks of the pioneers.
I would say that anything you accomplish that is difficult is worth it...and I have the juice and applesauce to prove it.