The Richmond Register

January 13, 2014

Enjoying the harvest

By Carol Prewitt
Columnist

RICHMOND —

The late summer and into fall was such a busy time for those who raised a big garden and their own meat for the coming winter.

My mother-in-law did as her mother and grandmother had done. She canned everything!

There were all those vegetables: tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, peas,corn and more. Fruit such as apples and peaches.

A large kettle was taken to the yard and put on a big rock to elevate it so wood could be piled beneath it.

The jars that had been so carefully cleaned, then filled, would be set into the kettle and water added to cover them. Then the fire was lit, bringing the water to a boil.

After a time the jars were removed and there was no greater sound than the “ping” you heard when, one by one, the jars would let you know they had sealed their precious ingredient.

Sometimes the corn, still on the cob, would be put into a wooden barrel, filled with water and salt and brined. They would keep forever this way. Longer than you cared sometimes,i f you'd had your fill of it. Kraut was made in barrels, too.

Then there were dried apples. Miss Edith would spread sheets on the roof of the porch and place her sliced apples there in the heat of the day. Then she would bring them in the house at the end of the day so the dampness wouldn't get to them. The next day she would do it again, until they reached the desired dryness.

They were then stored away until some cold winter day when she would surprise the family with those good ol’ fried pies.

There was a Beef Club in Newby some time back. A man by the name of Heathman, who lived on what is now Jolly Ridge Road, organized it.

About a dozen men would form a group that agreed, in turn, to share one beef of their own a month. When the beef was killed, each man was given a portion. It was recorded who got what part and the next month you were given a different part. It worked pretty well.

A side of beef could be hung in the barn from a rope and pulley and covered with canvas. When you wanted to cook some of it, you went out, lowered the rope, got what you wanted and raised it back up till next time.

Weather has changed so much since those days it probably wouldn’t keep today.

Meat was canned right along with the vegetables. Everything but the squeal of the pig was canned.  And the beef liver was always eaten right away.

On a cold winter night, as you sat around the table enjoying the harvest, you could take a bite, close your eyes and imagine those warm summer days when all this food was still on the hoof or in the garden.

Sure was good eatin’!