GREENUP -- An old adage claims that what is old will become new again.
That's the case with home canning which is becoming popular once again. While some home canners learned at a very young age, others are picking it up well into adulthood. A recent class at the Extension office in Greenup County brought together would-be canners of various ages. They learned the basics and then prepared and water-bath canned salsa.
Those participants may well be on their way to the kind of self-sufficiency that keeps numerous families fed. In the homes of two particular Greenup County women, keeping the canners cooking is a daily activity that starts early and often ends late.
Ann Stephens Breedlove kept up the practice even as she settled into urban life. Back on the family home place again, she has kicked her canning into high gear.
"I started when I was a teenager," she said. "My father was in the hospital at the VA and my mother went to be with him every day. I'd drive her there, then come home to watch my little brother and go back for her.
"Since she wasn't able to can the stuff from the garden, I did."
Breedlove says all she really needs to buy at the store are milk, bread and snacks since their small farm provides everything else they need. A shaded coop holds chickens while an expansive garden produces a wide variety of vegetables and fruit during the growing season.
"Here's my fruit," Breedlove said as she opens the door to a tall freezer. The shelves and door are jammed with strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, huckleberries and more, all grown by the couple.
An above-ground cellar made of concrete blocks has lines of shelves where canned food is kept. Full meals can be made what is found there as jars of vegetables sit with tomato juice, spaghetti sauce, chicken and meat.
To keep from heating up the house, Breedlove uses an electric stove in the garage for her canning. She is exacting in keeping things clean, including covering the stove with a tarp when it's not in use.
On a small place near Argillite, Sheryl Akers Stone's concern is enough shelf space for the many cans that accumulate during the growing season. Along with canning fruits, vegetables and meat, Stone also dehydrates fruits and vegetables for future use. She shares pictures of her daily work on social media and recently added a pix of the many quarts and pints of tomato juice she put up that day.
Stone's interest in canning also began early. She laughs as she remembers being snapping green beans and washing jars when her grandmother canned. It was after she married that Stone began canning in earnest.
Different foods are processed in different ways while canning. Some are done by a water bath method while others require a pressure canner. Breedlove uses both methods while Stone mostly relies on a pressure canner.
Because they are married to hunters, both women can venison. It is, Stone says, the best method because the deer meat is more tender and tastier if canned before used in a meal. She also makes jerky, a family favorite.
The population on the Stone farm has grown with the addition of pigs and cows. Breedlove is adding chickens to their place. Both women intend to preserve meat to continue to decrease the need to buy from grocery stores.
Stone and Breedlove both belong to on-line canner groups, but they are experienced to know that some of the advice given there needs to be taken with a dose of skepticism.
"The ways our grandmothers used are different than how thing are done today," Stone said. "The most important thing is food safety. No one wants to make anyone sick."
At that canning class at the extension office, Lora Pullin had a mantra she repeated frequently.
"Research-approved," she reminded the attendees. "If there's not research behind it, stay away from it."