Counters are heaped with produce: corn, tomatoes, peppers, apples, plums.  Every stove-burner has a pot:  today it is applesauce and salsa and plum jam and the ever-present canning pot.  Later in the day as jars fill and pots empty we’ll have two canning pots bubbling at once.

The stereo blasts with the rowdiest music mom can handle:  TobyMac and Manafest and Addison Road, all to keep up the spirits of working kids.  Half a dozen or more people swarm the kitchen,  weaving in and out and around each other, working, working.  First there is the harvesting and washing produce, then peeling and slicing, washing jars and wiping counters and getting out yet more towels to sop up the juice on the counters and floor.  And bowl after bowl of scraps goes out to be happily slurped up by cows and chickens.

Bare feet adhere to sticky floors, and discover stray apple peels flung everywhere by overzealous workers.  Flies buzz lightning fast through slamming doors, drawn from the cool outdoors to the humid fragrance of the kitchen. Cinnamon is the overwhelming scent in the air, with a hint of mint– we’re adding fresh mint leaves to our plum jam today.  But get too close to the salsa pot, and eyes water, throat clutches up.  The salsa promises good fierce heat this winter.

Work and work and more work.  It is the best of times and the worst of times all mixed together.   But at the end of the day we will have jars and jars full of food to set gleaming into the pantry.  And all winter long we will pull shining jars from the pantry, bearing enduring testimony to the hot, messy, delicious abundance of September.


Now playing:  Addison Road ‘Won’t Let Me Go’


  1. What a wonderful description, Mary. Brava!

  2. Oh I feel that today! Yesterday I canned 18 jars of pickles, made 5 loaves of zucchini bread and two pans of zucchini bars. Next weekend is applesauce, and the weekend after tomatoes.

    I love it and hate it at the same time!

  3. What a beautiful post! I’ve only attempted canning a couple of times but I remember how great it was to line up the jars when I was done. What an accomplishment.

  4. Love it. Absolutely love it! Would love to be in your kitchen right now 🙂

  5. sounds like a symphony of movement and smells! Nothing as wonderful as pulling a jar of food off the shelf and knowing – nothing is in there that you can’t spell!!

  6. So nice you have many hands to help you out.. God does provide the best doesn’t he??? Enjoy the organized messyness..

  7. Love it! We just finished up canning 7 quarts of grape juice concentrate for our house and grape jelly for my friends house. 3 kids sitting on the counter picking off the grapes, others washing jars and rings, still others toting the scrapes to the chickens. Your September was our August, we couldn’t hardly keep up with the canning. Yet to come here pears and more applesauce and I’m going to can some pumpkin this year too. Your little writing sums up the garden/canning process so well. I simply love the best of times/worst of times at the end. It couldn’t be more true; how you feel at the end of the day is all that matters and I’m always blessed to be way passed tired yet filled with thanksgiving as the pantry shelves fill up for winter.

    I made your french bread with hidden zucchini recipe for the kids this week just adding some crumbled up dried cherry tomatoes, crushed garlic, basil, thyme, oregeno and olive oil to it also. It was delicious! Thanks for the zucchini suggestion for yeast bread!


  8. Oooo I sure hope you are going to post pictures!

  9. beautiful and timley make me think of this poem by Keats
    Ode To Autumn

    Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness!
    Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
    Conspiring with him how to load and bless
    With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
    To bend with apples the mossed cottage-trees,
    And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
    To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
    With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
    And still more, later flowers for the bees,
    Until they think warm days will never cease,
    For Summer has o’erbrimmed their clammy cells.

    Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
    Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
    Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
    Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
    Or on a half-reaped furrow sound asleep,
    Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
    Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers;
    And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
    Steady thy laden head across a brook;
    Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
    Thou watchest the last oozings, hours by hours.

    Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
    Think not of them, thou hast thy music too, –
    While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day
    And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
    Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
    Among the river sallows, borne aloft
    Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
    And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
    Hedge-crickets sing, and now with treble soft
    The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft;
    And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

  10. I’ve been putting away summer food for enjoyment this winter. It’s a great thing to do. We’re a much smaller family, so I do it on a smaller scale.

  11. Many hands make harvest and canning so fun 🙂

  12. I LOVE to look at my cellar with neat rows of jars full of food! I can’t believe you can anything in those little jars – it can’t last very long! Maybe that’s your jam?