Some veggie love

WHAT to do with the vegetables you plant in your backyard? This though crossed my mind when I saw photos of the vegetables posted by Chris Helms a few days ago at Facebook.

My question was answered later when Chris posted photos of canned or bottled pickles, beans and tomatoes. Thus I dedicate this article to Jean Helms and her husband Chris.

You see, I'm a vegetable person. I eat all kinds of vegetables back home in Tagoloan town, Misamis Oriental in northern Mindanao, Philippines since I was little.

I eat saluyot, malunggay (moringa oleifera), kalabasa (squash) and even kabaring (bitter melon leaves and small bitter melon). All these, I think, contributed to my health which still holds well despite age and the rich food that I eat.

Now I eat dishes cooked/slathered in butter, cheese and mayonnaise. But what am I saying, this is about how Jean uses her vegetables. I think they've been harvesting since spring and she shared her homemade pickles to her Facebook friends.

“I use Mrs. Wage’s seasonings and follow her directions,” Jean told me. I didn't know who Mrs. Wages is and I had to Google search it. Mrs. Wages is actually a website which provides information on home canning products, ideas, recipes and so much more.

Mrs. Wage’s website says “Home canning is a homecraft dating back hundreds of years...one which has enjoyed a tremendous revival in recent years.”

From my conversations with Jean in the past, I learned that her family transferred to the Concord countryside in order to plant. I am amazed.

“I've been canning since we moved down here in MP. Everything came from my garden. This is one of the reasons why I moved to the countryside,” Jean said.

Aside from cucumber, Jean also cans green beans and tomatoes for their consumption instead of buying from the supermarket. “It lasts as long as its sealed properly,” Jean said.

Her home-canned veggies taste so good that it doesn't last a week with her family. “Pickles don't last long because everybody likes to eat them every day,” Jean said.

Jean is from Guimaras Island in the Visayas, Philippines. The island is located between Iloilo and Negros. Jean and Chris celebrated their 16th anniversary recently.

There are a number of websites on how to can vegetables and I'm only sharing Jean's tips on how she cans her vegetables:

1. Use only fresh vegetables in canning.

2. Clean by washing the vegetable real good even if it is your own plant, then rinse and pat dry the produce before canning.

3. Sterilize the jars and lids by setting them in boiling water for 10 minutes or running them through the "sterilize" cycle on a dish washer.

4. Clean and sterilize tools and equipment. All tools should be thoroughly washed. Sterilize canning jars and bands in boiling water. This eliminates harmful germs and bacteria.

5. Wipe the top of the lids clean. It is important that they have no food or residue on them, to assure a good seal.

I promise to write the actual step-step by step canning process used by Jean Helms which is a mix between what she followed online and the procedures she learned from her country of birth.

To Jean Helms, I wish you the very best in your veggie canning venture.

(Susan Palmes-Dennis is a veteran journalist from Cagayan de Oro City, Misamis Oriental, Northern Mindanao in the Philippines who works as a nanny in North Carolina. This page will serve as a venue for news and discussion on Filipino communities in the Carolinas. Visit and read her website at www.susanpalmes-dennis.simplesite.com. Read her blogs on susanpalmesstraightfrom the Carolinas.com. These and other articles also appear at http://www.sunstar.com.ph/author/2582/susan-palmes-dennis.

You can also connect with her through her Pinterest account at http://www.pinterest.com/pin/41025046580074350/) and https://www.facebook.com/pages/Straight-from-the-Carolinas-/494156950678063)

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