In the season when fruit and vegetables are plentiful, canning and preserving should form an important branch of work in the home activities, and every energetic and thrifty housewife should take the opportunity of bottling or putting up in tins a good supply for winter use. It would be especially helpful to the farmer's wife to have her pantry well stocked with canned foods of all kinds, as she would be spared many an embarrassing moment should unexpected guests arrive. Further, it should be remembered that fruit and vegetables are of very high dietetic value, and contain mineral matter in the form of phosphates of lime, iron, potassium, and other salts which are very necessary in keeping the blood in good and healthy condition.
It is a recognised fact that our South African women excel in the canning and preserving of fruit - a fact which is well illustrated by the fine exhibits at the annual Agricultural Shows - but as yet the canning of vegetables has been somewhat neglected, owing to the impression that "they will not keep." This is a wrong idea, and failures are simply due to faulty methods. Once the fundamental principles are understood, it will be realised how simple the process is.
In a country where so much fruit and vegetables are grown as in South Africa, there should be no need for importing from overseas, and yet we find that thousands of pounds are sent out of the country annually for canned fruits, jams, and preserves, while large quantities of fruit are allowed to rot on the ground each year. What is required in this country is an inexpensive portable canning outfit, with a capacity of canning hundreds of cans or bottles per day, and, preferably, one that can be used outdoors, probably in the orchard, as those which have been so successfully adopted in the United States, America. (See Illustration). Regular "Canning Clubs" have been organised there, and opportunities are afforded to many women, and even boys and girls, of earning a nice little income. For instance, "Tomato Clubs," which have been established by the Federal Government of the United States, provide an industry for boys and girls on the farm and utilise bushels of tomatoes that formerly were wasted. Canning outfits are set up in the fields, and the canning process, which is carried on out-of-doors, is supervised by a trained person. Tomatoes are canned in tin, and the finished product is marked by a label, which is a kind of guarantee of the excellence of the product. Not only does the enterprise bring its financial reward, but it develops business acumen in young persons, making them keen and alert, while it also stimulates an increased interest in farm life.
There is no reason why "Co-operative Farm Canneries" could not be started in this country on the same lines as those in the United States, and why equal success should not be obtained here. There are many home industries which might be established on our farms, and it is hoped that such industries will gradually be developed, but there is none more interesting and lucrative than the canning business, nor one that offers greater scope for our women with energy and enterprise.
Jeanette C. Van Duyn
Pretoria, October, 1920.
A type of Portable Canner, used extensively in the United States of America.