Appalachian Dialect Gardening Preserving/Canning

Putting up Time is Over…Well Mostly Over

can house

Our summer bounty of jars

Putting up food for this year is pretty much over, and I’m always kind of glad the busy work of canning, freezing, fermenting, and pickling is over till next year.

I still have a few pumpkins, candyroasters, and apples to do something with, but the heavy lifting is over.

Even though putting up food is a tremendous amount of work looking at all the goodness sitting on my canning shelves and on my freezer shelves is always worth the effort, not to mention getting to eat all of it.

Thinking of writing this post I took a quick look in a few of my Appalachian dictionaries for the term putting up food. It wasn’t in any of them.

I did a quick google and turned up one of my own posts. Digging a little further I did find a quote about putting up food on the Northern Woodlands website.

“Putting food up” is a curious expression. Originating back in the 1700s, this idiom means “preserving and storing food” – and that we certainly do. But “up” is hardly a useful image since we usually descend steep, awkward stairs into dark cellars to place our jars of preserved food on shelves.

“Up,” as a food-storage concept, applies more to the deliberate and creative methods used by gray and red squirrels. Yes, they will store food down low: the gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) buries its food beneath the soil and duff in shallow excavations, and the red squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) stores thousands of cones in ground-level middens. However, to our delight, squirrels also love to store food in high places where we can see them in action.

Tracking Tips: Putting Food Up

Although my steps aren’t awkward, I do descend to the basement to store my canning jars and my freezer items. After reading the quote all I could think about was The Deer Hunter teasing me about saying the phrase slide up.

My family has always used slide up like this: “Be careful I just mopped and you might slide up.” The Deer Hunter has always come back with “How do you slide up? It’s impossible. You slide down.”

Lucky for me I can always ask him “Well how do you go “up and under something” because he uses that one all the time 🙂


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  • Reply
    Christie Hawkes
    September 17, 2020 at 6:43 pm

    Hello Tipper. I’ve been poking around your blog a bit and really enjoying it. I never learned to can or put food up, as you say. I wish I had though. It seems truly satisfying. I do love it when someone occasionally shares their bounty with me. I’m thinking specifically of some apricot jam and chili sauce right now. Thanks for giving me a peek into your Appalachian life.

  • Reply
    Robin WInston
    September 15, 2020 at 4:53 pm

    I Love canning season ! But glad when it finished as well lol. Grew up canning and makin preserves. My mom and grand mother refered to canning peaches as packing peaches. Always made me wonder why?
    All the lovely jars pn shelves with all the Beautiful colors give me a large sense of accomplishment. Thanks for sharing

  • Reply
    Gina Smith
    September 14, 2020 at 11:18 pm

    I guess your feet slide up while the rest of
    you goes down.

  • Reply
    Leslie Haynie
    September 14, 2020 at 8:52 pm

    Part of the fun of putting up is admiring all your work in the jars.
    I get positively smug looking at mine and they’re not near as many as yours.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    September 14, 2020 at 8:49 pm

    I put up some pickled jalapenos a while back. That’s the first time I had grown them. I only had two plants. The first time I picked them I didn’t know what I was going to do with them so I put them in the refrigerator and let them sit til they got mushy. The next time I decided to pickle them. I found a recipe that was simple enough that I thought my simple mind could do it. I went mostly by the recipe but instead of just white vinegar I made it half white and half cider. Off of those two plants I got enough peppers to put up four pints and a one half pint jar. I ran out of lids so I had half a pint left I that didn’t have a good lid for. I processed it like the others but instead of letting it sit out like the others I put it in the refrigerator to eat first.
    Well let me tell you them’s the best pickles I ever eat. They are hot but not too hot to eat just out of the jar. Close to it but not too hot. I eat them the other day til my mouth started to get numb and I was scared to eat any more.
    I am on the lookout for more lids. I’ve got more of them waiting for me to do something with. Squirrels or something have gnawed into a couple of them but when they break through into the holler in the center they stop.
    If you or somebody at your house likes hot but not too hot stuff send me an email and I’ll send you a jar. I wouldn’t do that for anybody else. They are that good!

    PS: Dusty claims he can eat hot stuff but these pickled jalapenos lit him up. He has a jar and I think it will last him a long time. Missy won’t even talk about trying one. They really ain’t all that hot though if I can eat them.

  • Reply
    Paula Rhodarmer
    September 14, 2020 at 8:16 pm

    Tipper, that picture of your jars is beautiful! I always use the term “putting up” to describe preserving the garden.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    September 14, 2020 at 6:27 pm

    Those canned vegetables look good, I know you are Proud. I was so proud of my tomatoes and green beans when I canned. I’m glad You’re almost through, cause that is one Choir, and all the rain we’ve had makes it even harder.

    Of all the blogs I’ve visited, Yours is the Best. …Ken

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    September 14, 2020 at 5:17 pm

    Just thinking of “putting up” I recall it as a catchall term. With food, it covered pretty much all the means and methods, except maybe meats. But with anything it could also mean “saved” with the additional idea of being put in a safe place so as to not get damaged. I can’t think of “putting up” without remembering how my Grandma would put things up in the eaves of the barn or the porch.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    September 14, 2020 at 5:15 pm

    I use upinunder. It’s all one word. Way back upinunder means you can’t reach it even with the broom handle. If the cat brung in a dead animal and left it way back upinunder the bed you have to slide the bed out from the wall gist to get to the stankin thang.

  • Reply
    September 14, 2020 at 3:57 pm

    Tipper, your rows of home canned foods are beautiful! I’ve always heard putting up.

  • Reply
    September 14, 2020 at 12:50 pm

    This reminds me of my mother and grandmother working to preserve or put up any kind of food they could. Their closets or pantry would look like this filled with canned jars of food. I grew up in the 50’s and 60’s and a garden was a necessity for my family and a lot of our neighbors. None of us had the money needed to buy very much in a grocery store. I wonder sometimes what would of happen back then if we we had had the deer problem we have now eating our gardens up. When a garden meant the difference between having food or doing without, I think back then there would of been a permanent solution to the problem. It would of involved lead and the heck with game laws or game wardens.

  • Reply
    September 14, 2020 at 9:49 am

    That is quite the bounty of food put by for the winter. My mother in law always put “up” food and I dearly miss her good vegetables every year. I’ve not ever canned food but I may give it a go next year.

  • Reply
    September 14, 2020 at 9:05 am

    I’ve heard that expression all my life and it didn’t just apply to preserving food. If we got Mom a gift, she would say she’s going to put it up until she needs it. When we were caught playing with something we were not supposed to have, she would tell us to go put that up which often meant go put that back.

  • Reply
    Wanda Robertson
    September 14, 2020 at 8:46 am

    Tipper, I have a hard time describing to others the joy of looking at full shelves of canned food. Your pantry is beautiful.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    September 14, 2020 at 8:46 am

    That is a stunning picture of your summer’s work. There is always great satisfaction when you can see the results of your labor. Most of the work done these days does not allow for this visual satisfaction. You and the Deer Hunter must be very pleased!
    I’ve heard about putting up food all my life,never heard it called anything else. It’s part of a way of life here in the mountains.

  • Reply
    September 14, 2020 at 8:44 am

    Oh, how I admire your shelves of preserved food. My garden is still in the beginning stages. I paid $16! for 4 small pints of muscadine grapes at the farmers market and it only yields me just over one and a half pints of jelly. I saved the seeds to plant next year (G-d willing). Lots to do.

  • Reply
    September 14, 2020 at 8:33 am

    That expression “up and under” sure does sound familiar. It takes me back to the days when almost everyone had chifferobes instead of closets. I guess chifferobes are so old even spell check doesn’t know about them. Mom spoke of her Dad putting cabbage upside down in the dirt for storage. That goes way back to the early 1900s as a means of preserving food, and I don’t know why I never tried that with at east one cabbage. So much has been lost, or we have passed on by it without realizing what we were leaving behind.
    I bought a cousin the book “Putting Food By” by Beatrice Vaughhan once. With that title it could not help but be informative. Even with the decluttering craze, I hang on to any books about canning or putting up food. Thank you, Tipper, I still firmly believe nothing prettier than a basement of shelves lined with canned goods. My sister and I often speak of our “fast food” which was a can of Mom’s homemade canned soup retrieved from the basement. I don’t know what all was in it, but was anything left at end of garden. Nothing wasted, as she would even can green tomatoes and mix with corn meal for green tomato patties.

  • Reply
    Margie Goldstein
    September 14, 2020 at 8:19 am

    Oh Tipper! Your jars of prepared bounty are as beautiful, colorful, shiny and organized as I thought they would be! That’s EYE CANDY right there!!! When I was a kid, mommy would send me to the under the porch kind of cellar with 2 big wooden handles pots to collect and bring up what she needed. I’d run with my list in my head eagerly gathering jars of green beans, canned tomatoes, chow chow, pickles, corn, sauerkraut, apple butter or sauce, potatoes or apples from big baskets and I remember thinking how wonderful all that bounty looked and it was something I felt proud to be a part of! I know when I get to heaven after Jesus I’m heading to see mommy and Bobby who I CANNOT wait to see and hug!!! Until that time, I have memories to get me by….I know Deer Hunter and the girls are very proud of you, Tipper. You’re the glue that holds the family unit together! They’re blessed to have you, sister Tipper!

  • Reply
    September 14, 2020 at 7:45 am

    My grandmother who grew up in the Ky mountains and had a Scotch/Irish ancestry always used the term “putting up” food. She also said “putting out a wash”.

  • Reply
    September 14, 2020 at 7:31 am

    My family has always said slip up not slide up. Another saying, how does something burn up instead of burn down.

  • Reply
    Sanford McKinney Jr
    September 14, 2020 at 7:31 am

    The older folks in upper east Tennessee used to use the expression at the end of the “putting up” season that it was now time to enjoy the fruits of their labor. Thanks to my Mom and Dad, our cellar was always well stocked with cured, dried, canned, etc. during the “putting up” season. Of course, the whole family was involved in getting ready for winter, but Mom and Dad were the leaders. Took lots of food to winter two parents and seven children plus there was almost always others to feed.

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