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Friday, Aug. 26, 2016

Can-do attitude keeps woman busy

Monday, July 12, 2004

Theresa Marshall
SIKESTON - Canning fresh fruits and vegetables during the summer is a long-time tradition for Theresa Marshall.

"My aunt and uncle lived on a farm when I was a kid. When they moved there, a huge farm was already there," she explained. With all the available produce, her mother and a neighbor taught her how to preserve the fruits and vegetables when she was just a kid.

Although Marshall doesn't have a garden of her own, she still gets plenty of produce to can, Her dad and his neighbor grow a large garden. "He keeps me busy," she laughed. "He plants whatever we ask him times two."

Marshall, who works during the day, remarked that she wouldn't have the time to take care of a garden, pick the produce, and process it, as well as spend time with her family. In fact, she doesn't know how people who stay at home keep up with all of the demands of a garden. "They're just as busy, possibly busier," she said.

For Marshall, just canning the produce requires a huge time obligation. "Sometimes it's 11:30 at night before I get done," she commented. However, she does receive some help. A couple that lives across the street from her have snapped and prepared green beans, in addition to other friends and relatives.

Green beans are just one of Marshall's many canned goods. Her shelves are filled with jars of jellies, jams, dill pickles, refrigerator pickles, pickled beets, peppers and pickled okra.

She actually doesn't even like jelly and jam, but still enjoys canning them. "I like the way they turn out and the color," Marshall said, noting that she sometimes gives them as gifts.

As if she doesn't already have enough to keep her busy, Marshall wants to increase her variety of goods. "I really enjoy new recipes," she said. She commented she had seen a few recipes in the Ball book she would like to try.

Finding time may be a problem, between all of the other produce from her dad and his neighbor's garden. "When it comes off, you have to take care of it right away," she said. "You can't wait until a week later." Her hobby has to take precedence or the fruits and vegetables will get bad.

In a journal that she keeps, she pointed out a week in June when she canned over 100 jars of green beans, among other produce.

So far, Marshall has canned numerous green beans and some pickles. "This year has been really good for green beans," she said, noting that the green beans have already been pulled out of the ground. Some years, the green beans are just starting at this time. She said that spring weather and rainfall plays a large role in determining when the produce will be ready.

Marshall wants to keep food preservation a family tradition. "I want to teach my granddaughter," she said. She also wants to educate her niece who likes to cook and often helps Marshall with holiday meals.

This is an important custom to carry on, according to Marshall. "I think canning and gardening are dying," she said, comparing them to quilting and crocheting.

"Used to, everyone had a garden, even if only a small one," Marshall remarked. "Now only the older people have them." While they were popular, gardens provided the family with their own fresh produce. But now, she has observed that it is too easy for consumers to go to the store.

Marshall thinks women entering the work force is a reason for the decrease in gardening and canning. She also pointed out that some may view the expense of canning as a disadvantage.

"It's not cheap," she said. Seasoning, spices, lids, rings and jars are all needed, as well as pressure cookers, which are rather expensive. For those who grow their own gardens, they have the expense of taking care of it, as well as purchasing plants and pesticides. When time is factored in, Marshall said food preservation is more costly than going to a store to buy pickles or green beans.

But for her, it is worth it. Canning is a hobby that she enjoys, as do the people that she shares her food with. "I have a lady who buys freshly canned green beans from me around the holidays," she said. "Her kids just love the freshness."

Taste is obviously the biggest advantage for Marshall as well. "There's just no comparison to green beans out of the garden and what you can get out of the can."