Tennessee Mountain Stories

Puttin’ Up Beans


Did someone teach you to put up beans?  I don’t know that I ever remember lessons per se, but I certainly remember breaking beans with Grandma.  And I watched both my Grandmothers canning all matter of things.  Well through nothing but Christian charity I found myself with 4 or 5 bags of beans so I turned in to get them canned.  And my Ruthie was very excited to help – in fact, she said she was “super excited.” 


Well, it’s a process… she couldn’t get the ends off the beans (I was thanking the Good Lord that they weren’t very stringy beans) and she really would only break them in half.  I’m afraid we lost a good bit to the scrap bowl because she would throw the broken beans into the wrong place.  And by the time I was finished she was sitting in the bowl. 

Canning beans isn’t a difficult task – sitting and breaking can get a little monotonous I suppose.  And I have to look up the pressure cooker settings every single time.  So what did I learn at my Grandma’s feet?  A love for preserving; a desire to prepare for the coming winter, a refusal to waste… there were so many lessons there!  And these are lessons I feel bound to pass along to my own children.  There will be more baskets of beans to break and as they get older I’ll be requiring them to participate.  Ruthie helped scoop beans into the scalded jars, she watched as I poured boiling water on top and tightened down lids.  I explained the pressure cooker gauge even though I know we’ll have that same discussion the next time we have some beans. 


I wonder how many times Grandma explained it all to me?  I wonder how many rust spots and worm holes she picked out of the pan after I’d helped her so much?  I wonder if she knew what a gift she gave me in her teaching?