Sunday, October 25, 2009

Bottle Crazy

Those who do not have a good concept of the infinite need to come to our house during canning season which, at last count, has lasted about 2,048 years. I'm actually looking forward to 2012 and for the end of the world because it'll also mean the end of putting applesauce and carrots by as well.

Canning (more properly, bottling, since there are no cans involved) is an odd, anachronistic thing to do in this day and age. There's a farm museum just south of Ashton, Idaho, that has, as one of its outbuildings, a canning kitchen where all the canning took place. And that's a good thing, since canning is an exhausting, filthy and time-consuming job that you shouldn't let take over.

Back to infinity. On Saturday, we prepared 70 bottles of applesauce. The apples were free, taken mostly from our neighbor's tree. His deal is this: We give him all the raspberries he wants, we take all the apples we want, and as a bonus we clean up all of the apples that have fallen out of the tree into his yard. It works out well for us, because though we have tow apple trees of our own, they hardly produce the bumper crop we need to make applesauce. We'll get enough from one of our trees to make apple pie filling.

Back to infinity. We bottles those 70 bottles and didn't make a dent in our apple supply. Started out with ten huge boxes and now have six huge boxes and no more room in the storage room for produce, given that we've already this year bottled carrots, peaches, tomatoes, tomato soup, salsa, and green beans, most of which came from our garden (with the exception of the beans, which came from Michelle's sister.) So on the sustainability/carbon friendliness of our food supply, it's aces. All but the peaches are local -- the peaches came from Utah. You do not grow peaches in our part of Idaho if you don't want peaches that resemble raisins.

And yes, the whole family gets involved. Lexie helped us run the apple squisher while Isaac washed nearly all of the apples we used. (It is so weird, by the way, if I want to include two pictures in a post how Blogger makes my cursor disappear so I have to guess where it ended up.) I'm in charge of cutting up the apples, boiling them to a mush and then feeding them to the squisher people. I also put the lids on and run the hot water bather. Yes, in this photo I know I look thrilled. We'd been at it for four hours, with another six to go.

Here's some useless trivia for those wanting to get into bottling these days: There are only two brands of bottles made today, all made by the same company. For a long time, there were two companies, Kerr and Ball (the same company that, in a bequest, established Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana). They merged because, well, nobody bottles any more.

We got some old bottles from a neighbor, and she has quite a collection. She has the standard Ball and Kerr variety, but she also has a few from the Atlas Bottle Company, which conjures up images when in every city, one could find an independent bottle manufacturer, helping hausfraus put food by for future consumption. Alas, the only thing we have that resembles this today might be social networking websites. Everybody's got one.

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