Daynna’s Story

DISCLAIMER: I tend to be a Rebel Canner, meaning that I will try to can just about anything. If it works and I have not made my family sick, I say it was a success. Some of the things I can may not be right for your family and as always you should consider the health of your family when you are canning or preserving. If you do not feel right doing it, don’t do it. If you open a jar and it looks bad and/or smells bad, don’t eat it. Some of the recipes I use are not USDA certified or even USDA tested. But remember Europe does not have a USDA and they can and seem to be still be alive.

My name is Daynna. In my formative years I lived on a dirt farm in a rural town of Southern Alabama. My parents moved from Southern Alabama to Panama City, Florida when I was about 8 years old.

As small children we always had fresh vegetables and food to eat. There were cattlemen to trade vegetable with for fresh meats and dairy farms for fresh milk. In the winter time when the only vegetables my family grew were greens (collars, turnips, and mustard) we would have mama’s wonderful canned vegetables that she so carefully put up all summer.

I learned to can and preserve at my mother’s knee. I can remember canning tomatoes when I was about 4 years old. My grandfather and father had planted a large crop of tomatoes that year. My father brought my mother a pickup load of them in to can. I can remember thinking there were tomatoes for miles. My mother showed my sister and me both how to properly can the tomatoes. Of course at that age all I was interested in was eating them.

Once we moved to Panama City, the farms were few and far between. But my mother soon learned there were in the outlying areas that were more rural there were farms. My mother canned less after we moved to the “big city”. However, the passion for canning did not go away. Every now and then she would get a good deal on something and we would be back in the kitchen putting it up.

When I became an adult and decided that I wanted a home and husband of my own (was not sure about children at that time). I picked up canning like I had never stopped doing it. We have a “U pick” strawberry farm just down the road. My now ex-sister-in-law took me to the farm and I picked about 6 flats of strawberries. I brought those strawberries home and by the time my husband came home from work we had strawberry jam. He was amazed that I knew how to make jelly that would not kill us. Shortly after this my mother passed and I inherited her canning books and recipes.

After seeing that I could make and can fresh jam, he asked me what else I could can. I told him that I had my mother’s old books and notes and we could find out. We looked through the books and decided we were going to try beans next. They turned out beautifully. We bought a RonCo dehydrator (that we have now upgraded to an Excalibur)  and tried our hand at meats. This worked out nicely. This continued until I had children a couple years later. I slowed down on canning at this point. Two children under foot, husband, house, full time job all became overwhelming when trying to can too. That husband and I divorced and I surly did not have time for canning or preserving at that point. I had to earn a living and raise two girls.

A few years later I married a man who grew up in Austria and Italy. He was used to going to the market every day for his meals. He a fresh shopper and I an old hand at homesteading, I could not understand his way of life and he certainly could not understand mine. So I would let him go to the store every day for meals while I canned, dehydrated and preserved the fresh foods I found on sale. Come that winter when there were no fresh tomatoes to be had and he wondered what we were going to do about tomatoes in our chili for dinner. I pulled out a jar the girls and I canned during the summer. We had a wonderful bowl of chili and he learned that he did not need to run to the market every day for meals (the market is more than a 15 minute ride from our house).
Today we have greenhouses and grow some of our own food, which I am happy to can, dehydrate, and preserve. Some people call me a tightwad and others just shake their head when they see the store of home canned goods that we have put up. We have things like bone broth (turkey, chicken, and venison), carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, spaghetti sauce, bbq sauce, bean soups, beans (black eye, navy, ham soup bean, lentils, etc.), jams, jellies, marmalade, peaches, oranges, pineapple, salsas, pickles (dill, sweet, carrot, zucchini, squash) okra, squash, collars, spaghettios, mac and cheese, beanie weenies, chili, bean soups, caramel, chocolate sauce, venison, turkey, chicken, pork, and more on our shelves. In the near future we will be adding orange chicken with rice, chicken parmigiana, sweet and sour chicken, potato and corn chowder, cakes in a jar, tomato soup, cheddar and broccoli soup, butter, and fresh milk.

In addition, we dehydrate some of the vegetables and meats that we find on sale. We bought a Class B van that is like a RV just smaller and like to take camping trips. Jars are easily stored in the cabinets of the van. However, dehydrated meals sealed in a vacuum sealer are a way to make sure we have more than enough. For example, I dehydrate potatoes, onions, carrots, and venison (or beef or chicken) and put them in the bag along with some bouillon and seasonings and vacuum seal the bag. I can put 4 times as many meals in the cabinets. Join me and let’s make beautiful canned, dehydrated and preserved foods together.