Helen's 2004 Container Garden

August 19, 2004

This is the second year that I have canned vegetable soup. A year ago, I used quart jars, but this year, I decided that pint-sized jars of soup would fit my lifestyle much better.

Most of the tomatoes that I used in soup are from the Magic Beanstalk CSA,  the farmers market at the North Grand Mall in Ames, and the DeMoss Pumplin Farm west of town. However, I'm proud to say that the soup does include a few tomatoes from my very own garden.

I admit that my kitchen gets plenty messy when I process and can food, or for that matter, when I undertake any major cooking project. That means that the whole process ends up being a long ordeal from washing and peeling the tomatoes, scrubbing and cutting up the onions and other vegetables, sautéing them, washing and sterilizing the jars, filling them, waiting for the pressure cooker to do its job, letting the jars cool off, and cleaning up the mess.

Making and canning the food it an enjoyable process in many ways. But there can be spells in the middle of the endeavor when I wonder just why I undertook the challenge. Not only that, but I fear, that as a novice canner, I will make some serious mistake and end up poisoning myself. But I recall how proud I felt last winter to take a jar down off the shelf, open it, and savor an exquisite bowl of soup. I felt nurtured by the actual food but also by the knowledge that through canning, I had connected with an element of my rural heritage ... and that this old dog can learn knew tricks.

I look forward to this coming winter when I can again reach for a jar of soup and savor all that it has to offer.

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