|A quart of hard work ruined.|
Even if you don't do much homesteading, gardening or farming, there are times in your life when you have to ask yourself if whatever you're doing around your home is still worth the work or not. If you have raised kids and eventually move on to that Empty Nest stage of your life, you usually have to re-examine everything you are doing -- how you're cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, and even vacationing -- because while you weren't watching, your life moved onto its next phase somehow, and it all needs re-evaluation.
This is where I've been with canning the last few years. This morning, a quart jar of relish broke inside the canner, which happens sometimes (the newer quart Mason jars are usually only good for about five years before this happens), but which was very frustrating, as it represented several hours of hard work, come to naught.
|Is it still worth it?|
Too bad it took a quart of ruined relish for me to start pondering whether or not I actually still need that much relish stored up in the pantry. Like most people, I tend to just keep doing the same things I've always done until it becomes impractical for some reason, and then I start re-thinking whether it's needed or not.
So after cleaning up the canner and thinking about things, I've decided that, for the time being, I'm still saying yes to canning. BUT, it's a modified yes. If it's something I can put up in pint jars, like strawberry jam, apple pie filling, blackberry syrup, etc. it's definitely worth it. Pickle relish is also still worth it -- in smaller jars. But quarts of things? Not really what is practical or needed anymore for our household of two, broken jars or not.
So in thinking of ideas I can use to supplement our pantry in other homegrown ways, one thought I had was starting to make my own mayonnaise. I've got the eggs, and if I'm not tethered to a water bath canner filled with quarts of tomatoes all summer long, I also have the time. One other thing I've already started doing is switching our dog over to completely homemade dog food and treats, which I've wanted to do for a long time. But I'm pretty sure I can find other things that will make us more eco-friendly and healthy plus save us money if I re-order my thinking just a bit.
I'll still keep those quart jars around, though, as they're such brilliant multi-purpose containers, holding everything from flowers to leftovers to frozen broth. So the quart jars I have left will get a break from the literal pressure of canning, and I catch a break, too, in terms of workload. Less pressure on all of us.
That's a win for everyone, I'd say.
|Mason jars -- still the Swiss Army knife of household living, even without the canning.|