Over this Independence Day weekend, on the heels of our visit to the nation’s capital, we at the Potts-McCoy house engaged in activities most American:  listening to Dodgers games on the radio, eating hot dogs, watching ridiculous movies from the Nicholas Cage oeuvre, circa mid-90s, and putting up pickles and preserves.

I like to think that Thomas Jefferson would have been pleased.  Or at least entertained.

This weekend, I taught myself to can and in the process, learned many valuable things, including:

  • When you buy $80 worth of canning supplies from a housewares store, sales clerks and customers alike will gather around you to discuss pepper jelly and the virtues of water bath versus pressure canning, and be sweet enough to ask all about what you’re making, and assure you that you’re not going to screw it up or send anybody to the hospital.
  • It is possible to have a conversation about pickling cucumbers even if the clerk speaks no English and you speak no Korean, and that a clerk willing to have that conversation probably runs a pretty good produce stand.
  • If your mom isn’t around to help you, it is crucially important that you have a self-sufficient Oklahoma farmgirl friend available for Gmail chats at critical, time-sensitive moments, and a husband with speed-Googling skills willing to shout instructions into a frantic, steamy kitchen, should Okie friend have the nerve not to be signed in and standing by to avert a crisis.
  • The rubber end of the jar lifter goes in your hand and the curved one goes on the jar (this took far longer to learn than it should have).
  • Canning is really, really fun, and makes you feel like some kind of 21st-century Rosie the Riveter badass.

Recipes, pictures, and more valuable lessons learned to follow.