Appalachia Appalachia Through My Eyes

Appalachia Through My Eyes – Eating Food You Put Up

My life in appalachia Food you put up

There’s no doubt about it eating food you put up yourself is one of the good things in life. Part of the goodness comes from the nutritional value of the food, the taste, and the satisfaction of self sufficiency.

Recently I watched the rain come down in sheets while I ate apples I dried back in the fall. As I munched, I realized there’s another reason why things we put up are good.

On a yucky dreary day my dried apples gave me sunshine; a slice of crystal clear Georgia sky; the sounds of 4-wheelers and giggling girls; in other words my apples gave me a swirl of good memories from the day I dried them.

I’ve long realized we have memories and emotions tied to certain foods, like how we can taste a certain food and instantly be taken back to childhood. But I’ve never before thought of food in connection to the actual day it was made.

I’m positive the next jar of tomatoes I open I’ll smell the hot summer sun shining on the green leaves; the next time I cook a jar of greenbeans for supper I’ll think of the early summer days when we planted them together in Pap’s big garden with friendly banter back and forth among us all; and the next time I open a jar of apple jelly I’ll swear I hear the voice of a friend who went to so much trouble to make sure I got the apples in the first place.


Appalachia Through My Eyes – A series of photographs from my life in Southern Appalachia.



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  • Reply
    Kathy Dubree
    February 22, 2020 at 6:35 pm

    My Daddy grew up on a farm in Murphy NC. They “put up everything” from smoked pork to sausages and chicken freshly killed. They didn’t have much beef. My Daddy had never had a hamburger until he went in the Army at age 20. To him Army chow was great.

  • Reply
    February 6, 2013 at 10:50 pm

    Sounds wonderful, but I’ve never had the desire or the knack. I too well remember how terrible was the applesauce (chunky with hard apple bits throughout it) and ketchup (strong and chunky like BBQ sauce but with a flavor of sorgum-yuck) our dad tried to make when we were little, and I just go to the store. I do honestly respect people who are able to though because it’s hard work with a great healthy payout.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    February 5, 2013 at 1:17 pm

    Connie-thank you for the comment! I’ve never tried dehydrating turnips but it sounds like it would work : ) Maybe someone else has tried it and will tell us about it.
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia

  • Reply
    B. ruth
    February 4, 2013 at 6:18 pm

    Although I don’t can like I used to, I put food in the freezer.
    Extra corn, okra, tomatoes, chopped onion for a soup base. When tomatoes are in I will make the base for chili and spagnetti, freeze it in two or three size servings and package it…sooo good..I also freeze, leftover garden peppers, chopped, sliced, rings, etc. Sometimes when we make a stop by the mushroom factory, I stir fry in butter (just a smidge) chopped onions, peppers, and sliced mushrooms…freeze in small packages for steak gravy, soups, and just about any beef or chicken casserole or dish..The taste is wonderful…I make garden soup in the summer, put up some in quart containers and eat the rest. It all tastes so fresh and I know it came straight from the garden. Even the mushrooms were picked on the day we pick them up…
    PS Tipper, How are your mushroom logs doing?
    Thanks Tipper, for a memory of summer harvest..

  • Reply
    janet pressley
    February 4, 2013 at 4:30 pm

    Love your apple jelly! Had some the other night on a biscuit.

  • Reply
    Tim Hassell
    February 4, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    There are so many emotions attached to food from planting, harvesting,preserving, cooking and best of all eating! I think all of us have fond memories associated with some aspect of food, especially the love that was such a part of its’ preparation.
    Ethelene and I so often think along the same lines, stack cake was one of my first thoughts as I read your post.
    Ethelene,Bill and I all have memories of showing visitors what we had canned or put up. When visiting in my area it was just expected that you would be invited to see how the host’s garden was growing or how the chickens or calves looked or what they had put up.——-I think I’ll see about some dried peaches and maybe make that stack cake.

  • Reply
    February 4, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    You’ve just about said everything
    to set our thoughts in motion. I
    thank God for all my canned goods
    and the ability to make a garden
    each year. And like many of the
    previous commenters, just to have
    the satisfaction of chemical free
    food is worth it all…Ken

  • Reply
    February 4, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    Last week I spent a little extra time in the kitchen & canned some honey bell marmalade. I dehydrated the remaining rinds to grind up for citrus spices & teas. Yesterday while the wind was howling & random snowflakes skittered about, I enjoyed a nice, warm cup of citrus tea. Ahhhhh…..instant summertime. Good stuff, that puttin’ up food! *grin*

  • Reply
    February 4, 2013 at 1:23 pm

    I feel the exact same way. And it makes gifts of “put up” food from others even more special, because there’s a little bit of sitting-in-your-kitchen-on-canning-day in every jar.

  • Reply
    Eva Nell Mull Wike, Ph.D.
    February 4, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    Tipper: Back in the Cove we allers put our quartered and cored apples on a sheet and put them in the attic to dry. That was once advantage in sleeping upstairs. You could allers open the little loor to the attic and sample those winesap apples! They would taste mighty good on a snowy day!
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    February 4, 2013 at 11:58 am

    What a beautiful job you’ve done describing why the food we grow and put up ourselves is so satisfying in so many ways!

  • Reply
    February 4, 2013 at 11:56 am

    Nothing taste like home grown and put up for your own use.

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    February 4, 2013 at 11:46 am

    Another thing I remember about “puttin up food” was the pride everyone had in their productivity and self sufficency. The cellar and smokehouse were my parent’s way of keeping score on how busy and productive they had been, One of my favorite memories was bleached apples made into fried apple pies or as a side to a slice of cured hickory smoked Country Ham and biscuits that would melt in your mouth. Of course the Apples and Biscuits required a dollup of freash churned butter which was also a fruit of our labor. Another source of pride was after showing the bounty of the cellar my parents would always share with the guests and visiting extended family, most visitors in the Fall of the year left with a bag of taters, a jar of something or a helping of cured pork. This showed that even though we may not have been wealthy in terms of money we were in our ability to work and produce sufficent food to survive as a family and even enough to share our bounty with others. Tipper you sure have stirred up a lot of memories today. Have you tried puttin up any of your snow to use later?

  • Reply
    rick kratzke
    February 4, 2013 at 11:27 am

    My mom did the exact same thing when I was growing up. We lived off of what we grew whether it be vegatable or more substance like chicken, beef or pork.
    I never thought about it the way you described it in your post but, now that I am older and somewhat wiser I can very much relate.

  • Reply
    February 4, 2013 at 10:20 am

    My favorite thing about “put up” food is some biscuit bread and a jar of fried apples or pears. But then it might be some corn bread, a bowl full of soup beans and a big scoop of green tomato relish on top of them. Either way it is no wonder I look like a fatted pig by spring.

  • Reply
    Connie Cochran
    February 4, 2013 at 10:04 am

    My neighbor has a bounty of turnips this year. I thought about dehydrating them for later use. Any ideas?

  • Reply
    February 4, 2013 at 8:51 am

    You make me think ‘yummy!’ I haven’t dried apples and other fruit for a very long time. In fact I gave my dehydradier away when I moved. You have now made me rethink what I did. Happiness is a pleasant dream.

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    February 4, 2013 at 8:28 am

    Tipper, With what beautiful prose you told us of the intrinsic as well as the physical values of “putting up” your own food! It took me back to days of our “can house” on the farm, a protected cellar where the Mason Jars in all their filled glory assured bounty even for the cold, unproductive months of winter! And with what pride (not a haughty pride, but pride in a job well done) did we show our “store” to neighbors and did we, in turn, admire and congratulate them when we visited their cellar with like shelves of “put up” food. This is the way we were “brought up” in the mountains: Hard-working, saving, enjoying the fruits of our labors.
    And when you write about “dried fruit,” I hope you include also the delights of a “stack cake” with layers slathered with cinnnamon-flavored dried-fruit applesauce. I can almost smell and taste it to this day!

  • Reply
    Patti Tappel
    February 4, 2013 at 8:08 am

    I know just what you mean. We canned 7 jars of cuties (yes those little oranges) and 12 pints of beef Vegetable soup yesterday! Then we opened a jar of whole tomatoes with our dinner last night. Life is Good!

  • Reply
    February 4, 2013 at 8:02 am

    The best thing about putting up your own food is knowing it won’t be recalled. And it always tastes so much better and doesn’t have all the preservatives the store bought kind does.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    February 4, 2013 at 7:49 am

    Yes, it is very satisfying to reap the rewards of your own labors in such an up close and personal way. I mean, a pay check is good and necessary but it’s not a beautiful deep purple color like concord grape jam.
    There are few things as satisfying as preserving your own food and feeding your family.
    I’m really hoping our fruits will do better this year. The late frost killed so many last year.
    Those apples look mighty fine!

  • Reply
    February 4, 2013 at 7:34 am

    Sometimes those memories can carry you way back in time. Canned green beans and tomatoes always take me back to my mountain home of childhood. I sat beside a big washtub full of jars, and with small hands I could reach all the places inside and get them clean. Then when the cold winds of winter came we would eat big pots of homemade vegetable soup or cooked half runners. As I remember I was never bored!

  • Reply
    P Lynn Appleton
    February 4, 2013 at 7:25 am

    This past Christmas I thought all my friends and family would appreciate something I put up myself, so I made apple butter. I asked everybody to let me know how they liked it. So far ain’t been nobody said nothing. No news is good news? Right?

  • Reply
    Mary Shipman
    February 4, 2013 at 7:19 am

    I so agree! There is nothing like the ‘taste of summer’ you get from home preserved food.
    I opened some peaches on a day filled with snow and cold wind last week, soon a peach pie was in the oven and the whole day seemed better.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Ormond Paul
    February 4, 2013 at 6:24 am

    What lovely memories.

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