Twelve-Hundred Mason Jars

When Mama was busy in our large farm kitchen she reverted back to Yiddish.  I remember canning time in the fall.  First, all clutter was removed and then the kitchen table was filled with fruits and vegetables.  The boxes of jars were stacked separately on the chairs.  We had 1200 mason jars, and they were all filled each year.

The ritual began with boiling the jars, lids, and rubber seals in big pots, bubbling in anticipation, on the coal stove in the kitchen.  There were fruits galore; apples, peaches, plums, pears, and cherries.  Then came the vegetables; peas, beans, corn, and tomatoes.

All the jars were stored on wooden shelves in the damp basement of our 1842, dirt-floor, slate-roofed farmhouse in Hunterdon County, New Jersey.

Mama never labeled the jars, for the fruit and vegetables were easily visible through the glass.  There never was a time that any jar was left over for the following season. 

Summertime roomers and boarders pestered Mama for her canned goods.  She doled them out as if they were gems.  Peaches and cherries were the special favorites.

Besides the names of the canned items, except corn, all were in Yiddish.  As we boys helped Mama, every other word was gikher, gikher un shneler, shneler (both words mean quicker, faster or speedier).