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Drying Corn and Canning Tomatoes During the Great Depression

8/29/2011 12:47:05 PM

Tags: drying corn, canning, food preservation

Dried Ears of CornThis story is from Doris Zicafoose, submitted as part of our Wisdom From Our Elders collection of self-sufficient tales from yesteryear. 

Preserving food was a big part of our summers. I remember a time or two when my folks tried drying corn. My dad found a metal signboard and they spread the corn we had cut off the cob on the sign and put it out in the hot Oklahoma sun. It had to be covered with cheesecloth to keep the bugs off and if a rain shower appeared, we had to hurry and bring in the corn. But was it ever worth it! That was the most delicious corn; it had a distinctive flavor, very different from canned or fresh corn.

When my mother bought the pressure canner from one of Dad’s really good horse trades, it was a real blessing. We had been canning tomatoes and fruit with a water bath canner. But the pressure canner meant we could can other vegetables. When my sister and I became active in 4-H Club, we won many blue ribbons in the county fair with our pressure-canned vegetables!

The depression of the 1930s was a hard time in which to grow up, but I cannot be too bitter about our family’s lack of money. There were more important things like a loving family, loyal friends, and 60 acres of field and pasture for children to roam over, that more than compensated for the lack of material goods. We always had horses to ride and a bit of fertile earth for a garden. With God’s help we made it through the hard times of the Great Depression.

Photo Credit: Fotolia/mkm3 

Please send email submissions to with the subject line "Elder Wisdom" or send mail to: attn: Heidi Hunt, Re: Elder Wisdom, Mother Earth News, 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609.

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