Not all canned food comes from the grocery store

Pictured above is Jeron and Brian Maxwell and their children, Isaac, Gavin, Avalea, Rian and Anzlea, who all participate in gardening and canning.

Jeron Maxwell is a mother of five, and even with her busy schedule, she finds time to keep a disappearing homemaking ability alive: she cans the food from her family’s garden.

“Both my husband, Brian, and myself learned to can from our mothers,” said Jeron. The Maxwell’s garden contains the common vegetables like squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, corn, and egg plant. However, they also like growing not so locally common vegetables such as lemon cucumbers. “It looks just like a lemon, but it smells like a cucumber and tastes like a cucumber with a slight lemon taste,” said Jeron.

They also enjoy planting a hybrid tomato named “Better Boy” and an heirloom tomato called “Brandywine.” Also the not so common “Cherokee Purple” and “German Pink” tomatoes.

At times Brian, uses one of his horses to till the garden the old-fashioned way. Gardening and canning is a family affair with all five children ages 14 to 22 joining in to help.

Jeron feels that one of the advantages to gardening and canning her food is the pre-meal preparation she does. “I can my foods in such a way that my meal is almost ready when I open the jar,” said Jeron. “For example, I go ahead and mix up my ingredients for squash casserole in one jar or the basic ingredients for a soup in a jar.” She also makes up her salsa ready to eat.

Brian’s grandfather, Burl Clayton, had a grapevine and the Maxwell’s have cuttings from which they planted their own small grapevine and now produce grapes for making their own jellies. The orchard of a dozen apple trees and a few pear trees provides them with ample fruit for preserves. “I can my apples with everything needed to make a pie, it’s a pie in a jar all I have to do is dump it into the crust and bake,” said Jeron.

When the Maxwell’s built their home they made sure the plans included a very large pantry to house all the jars from their yearly canning. According to the National Center for Home Food Preservation the most popular source of instruction for home canning continues to be family or friends. In the December 30, edition of The Times-Journal the Who’s Who article featured Katrina Brown and the classes being taught in her home, which include canning and food preservation. 256-657-1403.

Jeron’s Motto: “Preserve present blessings for future needs.” (Family motto)

— Marla Ballard’s Who's Who appears in the Times-Journal Wednesday and weekend editions.

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