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Preserving on Vashon

I’ll always remember Mom’s cinnamon  apple sauce, darker than the rest and haunting in flavor on a cold Fall day.  Most everyone canned or preserved their food in some way.  It was during WWII, when we were using ration cards and sugar was hard to get.

If you were distilling liquor in the woods, it takes lots of sugar.  I know of a man who kept a still on the hill behind his place.  He also had bees, which may have been classified a defense industry, which permitted him to buy all the sugar he needed. His liquor wasn’t bad if I could remember drinking it.  Parts of his still could probably be found in the blackberries behind Engel’s gas station.  Just kidding, the story came from Lewis County, if I recollect, no where near Vashon.

Canning salmon was the most risky because of botulism and temperatures had to be adhered to carefully.  The slices of fresh sockey, or better yet, coho or silver salmon stewed in their own juices?  The bones were softened in the process and had a unique taste of their own. It felt like you were crunching the bones of something ancient. This was well before the days of “use by such and such a date.”  

Mom poured liquid paraffin on the top of her jars of jam to seal them  to keep them from spoiling.   Even if the wax leaked, she would carefully clean any mold from the jam, so us kids wouldn’t say “yuk”, she never lost much of her precious jam.

Money was tight in the 1950’s and meat was expensive, so Mom used a meat extender called Nutri-Bio, which made our hamburger taste like sawdust and which product the FDA later had removed  from the shelf because of false claims of the wonderful properties of Nutri-Bio and how many ills it could cure.  

David Church was complaining to me the other night, he is a classmate and friend, of the things his Mom would have him do on the farm. One of his chores was getting eggs from the crock in the root cellular, where they were preserved in water glass or sodium silicate, which is an aqueas, gooey mess and David had to stick his arm into the crock, clear up to his armpit to retrieve the eggs.  He hated it and called water glass,”pig snot”; probably something he saw in the pig pen when he was feeding the hogs.  

 Water Glass can also be found on the commercial market as a graffiti remover for porous surfaces. It is also called “pig snot.” and is marketed mostly to big cities.

Preserving carrots was easy, just bury them in sand in a cool dry place and they will last through the winter.  
We weren’t allowed as children to participate much in canning,a very critical process, such as the sound the lid makes when you tap it to check the seal.  A dull  sound indicated a leak and the jar had to be put back in the water bath to re-seal.  When the tap was sharp and of a higher note, the seal was good.  Peeling apples for sauce was the closest us kids ever got to canning.