LAUREL — The signs of fall are all around these days.
For many area residents, the start of autumn means the end of gardening season.
The bounty of a healthy garden translates into many full jars of produce through the winter months for at least one area resident.
Canning is a family affair for Cindy Miller, who says she learned to can from her grandmas, Grandma Loberg and Grandma Keifer.
She also learned many canning techniques from her mother and father. Her father taught her how to can meat at a young age.
Not only does Miller enjoy her memories of canning with her grandmothers, but enjoyed canning with her siblings. Miller is one of six siblings in her family. She and her sisters would help their mother do canning in the kitchen. The boys would help can too, but enjoyed tending to the garden more than being in the kitchen.
Miller cans a huge variety of produce these days. She utilizes her cucumbers by making types of pickles, such as sweet pickles, zesty pickles, and celery pickles.
She uses both a water bath technique, as well as a pressure canner.
The acidity level of the produce will determine whether she uses a hot water bath or pressure canner to preserve her bounty.
She uses the pressure canner for potatoes, carrots and corn because these items have a low acidity level.
When planning for this year’s garden, Miller said she had 15 tomato plants, several pepper plants, squash and zucchini.
She has a garden both in town at her house and another in the country for sweet corn.
Miller will freeze extra squash, too. She makes relish out of the zucchini, as well as muffins and breads.
Cindy and her husband, Kyle, have six children and 14 grandchildren.
She enjoys teaching her grandchildren about her love of gardening and canning.
It is important, she said, to teach the next generation this trait. And it’s fun to see some of them get involved in the project. She said one of her grandchildren in particular is helpful in the kitchen.
Miller said while she cleans and preps the produce for canning, she will hand it to her grandchild to put in the water to soak until she’s ready for the next step. Her grandchild likes to take a quick bite out of the vegetable before placing it in the water—making the canning process more memorable for all involved.
Miller enjoys sharing her labor of love with her family and friends. Her family enjoys visiting her basement storage during their visits home. A highlight for Miller’s children when they come to visit is going shopping at “Cindy’s Grocery Store.”
But there are rules involved in ‘shopping’ at her store.
“If you take a full jar home, you won’t get another full jar if you don’t return the empty jar.” This rule of thumb is essential for Miller to keep her shelves full of all her tasty produce.
Miller has too many jars to count and has had to watch for sales to add jars to her collection. She has two pressure cookers and four kettles.
She is a woman that always needs to be on the go. When she’s not gardening or canning she keeps herself busy doing woodwork. She has refinished many pieces in her home, currently working on re-doing the trim throughout her house.