Thursday, July 10, 2014

Summertime Stringing

Of the beans. I've been getting string beans (green beans) in my CSA box lately and quickly realized that stringing beans is another one of those memory joggers. And, not nearly as much fun as it was when I helped my grandmother with this summer chore.

We had relatives who were mill workers AND farmers when I was growing up. Every summer, my grandmother and I and my brothers when they came to join our family, spent weeks 'putting up' fresh off the farm vegetables for the winter.

We put up corn and green beans and peas (of all sorts) and tomatoes and pickles (cucumbers) and water melon rind pickles (so good!). And then there were the preserves- strawberry, peach, fig. And the fruit- peaches, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries.

Our early summers were filled with canning/freezing these summer delights that we enjoyed year 'round thanks to Grandmother.

We would shuck bushel upon bushel upon bushel upon bushel of corn and Grandmother would scrape the kernels off the cobs. Her glasses and kitchen windows would be covered in corn spittle. It was hilarious! She put up the best corn I've ever eaten in my life to this very day. No matter what veggie or fruit she was working on, Grandmother took care and stayed with it until the job was completed to perfection. All the while humming her favorite hymns.

I don't put up bushels of anything around here. I've tried, but it's just not the same. I probably didn't pay enough attention to Grandmother's techniques or maybe I just don't have what it takes to take this on each summer.

Then there's the fact that the fruit and veggies that are made available to us these days taste nothing like the fruits and veggies Grandmother had access to. She chose all her produce from farmers who did not use pesticides. Most of them still didn't back then. We could eat all those goods canned with love by her hands without fear of the food making us sick over time.

Nowadays, we have to join a CSA and not all of them are certified organic. And, the ones that say they are, might be lying through their teeth. Even if they are telling the truth, who's to say that the very dirt they grow their veggies in isn't full of some sort of chemical death from neighboring farms or from pollution brought to the ground via rain or some other way that is known or unknown to the growers and to us?

I'm afraid that we are getting to that point in time where we have no escape from chemicals in our food and our water and our air. There is simply nowhere to run.

We didn't know how good we had it back in those days. Back when a good bit of our summer days were spent shucking and stringing and shelling and even picking. We could eat anything we picked right off the vine if we wanted to without downing more chemical pesticide than fruit.

A good many of our summer days were spent in laughter and love and learning from the company and wisdom of Grandmother while up to our waists in fresh, pesticide free produce.

Do y'all put up veggies? 


  1. chemical death - sounds a little too scary. Oh I think the usage of many toxic harmful things have gone too far but I recall learning that DDT was widely used in the 50's. Some call the 50's the golden age of pesticides. We need to be careful to look pros and cons. New stuff should be scrutinized for possible side effects. This is big problem in the drug industry too.

  2. bill- Absolutely agree. I love that my farming relatives never used chemicals of any kind. My cousins who still grow today are still hand picking bugs and using chili powder on their veggies. And do NOT get me started on the drug industry. Whom I believe to be in cahoots with the chemical giants. Among others.

  3. Good afternoon Pam. Well I know what's in my dirt, what's on my plants and how I can .... since I'm like your grandma but not old yet. Same thing for my chicken but I do have to buy pork but try to be careful where from. I get a 1/2 of a 1/2 of beef from my neighbors farm every fall but I don't know of anyone that has pigs but I also haven't asked around since we really don't eat much meat in the first place.
    I do worry about the chemicals at times but I'm afraid it's everywhere so picking and choosing is what we have to do.
    Right now my peas, beans and rhubarb are ready. The fox has gotten 8 of the teenybobber chicks so I have to do some midday hunting I think. But we still have a couple dozen to butcher mid August. Just wash everything you get, cook it well and as long as you don't glow in the dark when the lights are off I guess everything is okay so far. :o)
    Blessings my friend!!

  4. Julie- HEY! As long as I don't glow in the dark = HILARIOUS! You crack me up! I have my Fitbit and haven't hit 10,000 steps yet. I'm afraid I'm letting the heat and humidity get the best of me. I've got a post scheduled in the next week or so. Maybe I'll be walking more steps by then.

  5. A great post! No, I don't can or freeze, but we sure did a lot of it when I was growing up. My dad had a huge garden, and we all had to help pick, clean, and can. Later they got a big chest freezer, and mom started freezing everything, instead of canning. Much easier. Pickles and jams still were canned. My mom made the best green tomato relish. Oh my goodness.

  6. I don't put up anything, but your post brought back wonderful memories. I learned many things while shelling peas on the front porch with my grandmother and my aunts.

  7. Terri- My grandmother had one of those big chest freezers too. She froze a lot of fruit and the corn. I think she froze some beans too. I sure do miss all those wonderful times and tastes! :)

    Vicki- I'm so glad the post brought back good memories for you. I've been enjoying my memories this summer. Have a great weekend!


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