After spending two hours on a canner load of cardamom-spiced pears, I have plenty of other things to do. But until the last lid sucks in its breath with a tenor pop, leaving the kitchen would be like exiting a concert just as you hear the first notes of your favorite song. Why be in a hurry to go?
On the other hand, it does seem that the same power that prevents watched pots from boiling causes lids to pop when you've almost given up. Then comes one, then another, each pop announcing that all is well.
It's the sound of accomplishment, with a strong undercurrent of relief. The food you've grown, harvested, washed, cut, cooked and canned is safe for a couple of years. So what if next season's crop comes up short? This year's bounty is in the can.
Some may argue that the bigger thrill comes when you open a jar of tomatoes or grape jelly or whatever in January and smell summer for one brief moment. I disagree. The gentle whoosh of a seal opening is nothing compared to the cracking pop of a lid closing itself to the outside world. What a wonder, to be able to cook now and eat a year later. Each pop says that it is done.
I have a suggestion you won't find in canning books: home canners should listen to lids popping as a rewarding ritual to be observed as each batch is set aside to cool. Simply sit for five minutes, giving yourself over to one of the more wondrous sounds of a self-sufficient life. When you take the time to listen, each pop brings a spurt of joy.
Photo by Barbara Pleasant