Anthony Deich of Pipe, in his fruit cellar with his canned items he holds a bottle of wine he produced from grapes grown in the garden behind his home. / Patrick Flood / Action Reporter Media
A short history of food preservation
• In 1795, Napoleon Bonaparte offered a reward for whomever could develop a safe, reliable food preservation method for his constantly traveling army. Nicholas Appert took on the challenge, and about 15 years later introduced a method that involved heat-processing food in glass jars reinforced with wire and sealing them with wax.
• By 1810, Englishman Peter Durand had introduced a method for sealing food in "unbreakable" tin cans. The first commercial canning establishment in the U.S. was started in 1912 by Thomas Kensett.
• By the time of the U.S. Civil War glass food preservation jars with metal clamps and replaceable rubber rings had been invented.
• In 1858, John Mason invented a glass container with a screw-on thread molded into its top, and a lid with a rubber seal. Meanwhile in the late 1800's, William Charles Ball and his brothers got into the food preservation jar business and quickly became leaders in the industry.
• Alexander Kerr invented the easy-to-fill wide mouth canning jar in 1903 (an innovation that the Ball brothers quickly duplicated). Kerr came up with a metal disk with a similar gasket, held in place by a threaded metal ring. The modern 2-piece canning lid was born.
Joyce Kindschuh believes in the old adage: “24 hours from vine to brine.”
She’s talking about pickles — garlic dill pickles to be exact. The kind that crunch and snap in your mouth.
Canning enthusiasts are currently surrounded by cucumbers and busy with boiling water baths and sprigs of fresh dill. They are eager and chomping at the bit for tomatoes to ripen, and this year’s crop around Fond du Lac looks to be promising after the drought of 2012.
“When you preserve your own food, it tastes better than anything you can buy in a store,” said the 83-year old South Byron resident.
The local UW-Extension is offering a lunchtime series on canning and food preservation from noon to 1 p.m. on Aug. 5, 19 and 26.
“Preserving food from your garden or farmers markets during the summer can make for quick and delicious family meals later on,” said Barbara Ingham, University of Wisconsin Extension food safety specialist.
Generation to generation
Marianne Timblin lives on Lake Winnebago and has been canning for 76 years. Like Joyce, she learned the art from her mother and at age 76 she still loves a steaming kitchen — even in summer — if it means piles of ripe tomatoes and glass canning jars.
“I get the produce fresh from the farmer’s market and make it right away. That’s what makes the difference,” she said.
On land close to Lake Winnebago, Anthony and Rachel Deich of Pipe grow enough produce to can about 400 quarts of foodstuff per year. They have 100 grape plants, strawberry, blackberry and raspberry patches, rows and rows of vegetables, fruit trees, pots of herbs and hops to make their own beer.
Growing up Anthony followed his grandpa around when he worked at J.W. Jung Seed Co. in Randolph.
“Every time I smell a dirty root cellar, it takes me back,” he said.
Canning brings the family together, Rachel said. Nothing they grow goes to waste.
“We talk about our day when we are working together and the kids are at the sink, pulling the seeds out of tomatoes,” she said.
When all the tomatoes ripen it isn’t unusual to find Anthony getting his last batch in the canner at 1 a.m., about the time Rachel comes home from work from her job at Agnesian Healthcare.
“Some people take trips, go camping, but this is our summer fun,” Anthony said.
Patience is critical
There is no hurrying the canning process, Timblin asserts. Steps must be followed and everything must be clean and sterile, with boiling hot water baths to ensure that the jars seal properly.
She doesn’t compare the cost of her “put up” preserved food to commercially canned produce because, she said, she would never, ever open a can of tomatoes purchased from the store. Raised on a farm near Dotyville, Timblin recalls her mother canning everything during the Great Depression.
“Peaches and pears, sauerkraut, sausage — in those days they did their own butchering. The memories our generation has from back then, kids today won’t have them,” she said.
Kindschuh agrees. Her mother canned cubed beef and chicken and even hamburger patties. Her family farm was located in Waushara County near Poy Sippi.
“I keep doing this out of love. My daughter and grandchildren love my pickles and tomato juice. So if it makes them happy it makes me happy,” she said.
Joyce Kindschuh’s Garlic Dill Pickles (from her friend Sharon Martin)
4 cups of white vinegar
12 cups of water
One cup of sugar
One cup of canning salt
Mix the first four ingredients into brine and then bring to boil.
Pack cucumbers (about 4 inches long) into jars, along with two cloves of garlic, peeled and cut in half; one large or two small heads of dill and one slice of onion. Add the brine to the jar until it is one inch from the top and process jars.
This recipe makes enough for ten quarts.
Marianne Timbin’s tomato soup recipe:
Fill a big turkey roaster with tomatoes, wash them and cut them up, along with one bunch of celery and two large onions. Cook on top of stove until everything is cooked down – about a half hour. Then run everything through a juicer.
Put juice in cooking pot, along with 4 tablespoons of salt, half of a tablespoon of pepper, one cup of sugar and half a stick of butter. Let it all come to a boil.
Mix up two separate batches of three-quarters of a cup of flour with one cup of water. Mix until smooth. Stir both batches gently into the soup mixture until it thickens.
Pour the liquid into hot jars.
Sharon Roznik can be reached at (920) 907-7936 or email@example.com.