Embrace your inner ant, make the grasshoppers say 'Uncle'

Nathan Baker • Oct 13, 2019 at 12:00 AM

My full metamorphosis into ant is complete.

Like the insect in Aesop’s Fables that stored away food while the grasshopper spent the summer singing, I’ve been busy.

Well, moderately busy.

Seven quart jars of homegrown, home-canned tomatoes are now safely stored in the back of my pantry.

I’m not against hard work, but I’ve never really been a “work now, eat later” kind of person. That level of forethought has mostly eluded me.

I’ve grown veggies for years, but I’ve eaten them shortly after harvest. This year, though, I am become ant.

I remember mom and dad canning green beans and tomatoes for hours. Us kids helped break the beans, and played in the water when they washed them, but there wasn’t much for us to do when things heated up in the kitchen.

We ate from those jars all year.

This year, I decided to save some of my garden for later, and when the lackadaisical grasshopper comes begging for a morsel, I’ll look down and whisper, “No.”

Or maybe not. I don’t think grasshoppers eat canned tomatoes anyway.

At any rate, all my prepping took prepping itself. Mom had a pressure canner, but all I had was a huge pot for water bath canning.

I bought some quart jars, along with a kit that came with a canning funnel, a jar lifter and a plastic stirrer.

The process was pretty straightforward — washing, boiling and plunging the tomatoes into an ice bath so their skins came of more easily, then cutting them into right-sized pieces and putting them over medium heat for a few minutes. Because I was using the water bath method, I had to put a little lemon juice in each property sanitized, warm jar to raise the content’s acidity.

After an agonizingly long period of time in the boiling water bath, hearing the dimples on the lids get sucked into the sealed position was music to my ears.

I used one of the quarts for a jambalaya, and it tasted even better than when I use stewed tomatoes from the store, but I guess that’s the point.

If you’d like to join me in celebrating your inner ant and look down on all the grasshoppers of the world, send me an email at nbaker@johnsoncitypress.com and let me know what you canned this year.