Summer veggies, ready for winter

215 jars of tomatoes are just part of her stash of home-canned goods

 

MELINDA JOHNSTON

Special Correspondent

 

Mint Hill —

What do you do with too many tomatoes? If you’re Lynnette Pritchard, the answer is easy: You can and can and can some more.

The Mint Hill native has 215 quarts of freshly canned tomatoes and 54 pints of canned tomato juice sitting in her dining room.

 

Keeping
the tomatoes company on the table are 36 pints of kraut, 14 pints of
pickles, 30 jars of strawberry jam, and 9 quarts of okra and tomatoes
combined.

Most of the tomatoes she got from her neighbor, Ed
McWhirter. The other vegetables came from other friends and family who
had extras in their gardens. (The heat may be hard on many plants, but
the gardens in Mint Hill seem to be thriving.)

Pritchard learned the art of canning from her parents, Jesse (now deceased) and Jean Mullis, 90.

 

"Mother
did the green beans and tomatoes inside, and Daddy did the beets
outside in a black wash pot. He also made kraut in an old wooden
bucket," Pritchard said.

She remembers the year she helped with
the kraut, not realizing that each time she chopped the cabbage in the
container, she was also adding tiny pieces of wood from the bucket to
it as well. She says that winter her family got used to picking out the
splinters before they ate the kraut.

 

Now she makes kraut inside,
chopping the cabbage with a food processor and placing it in a ceramic
crock to ferment — but only when the moon is new so the liquid draws
out properly.

 

The tomatoes are more labor-intensive since they must be peeled by hand, but Pritchard said she doesn’t mind.

 

"I
sit at the sink on an old rolling telephone operator’s chair and peel
until I get a 5 quart pot full. Then I cook them till they are very
done. I don’t like chunky sauce. Next, I put them in jars and put the
jars in boiling water. It gets the air out," she said.

She uses
slightly different techniques for the other items, and she’s ended up
with more than 300 jars of canned food in her dining room. She will let
the jars sit on the dining room table for several weeks to make sure
the seals are good before stacking them carefully in the cupboard.

 

But she has another reason to leave them there.

 

"I
love to can. I can’t stand to see anything go to waste, and it gives me
a sense of satisfaction to see all these jars. I think I’ll just leave
them here awhile."

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