A couple of years ago, at my uncle’s 80th birthday party, I discovered that even the drag queens in my family don’t wear high heels if they can help it. The phrase "women in sensible shoes" is obviously made for us. As far as I know there is only one drag queen in my family (and he may be getting enough proper acting jobs nowadays and not doing that). But those friends of mine who have tried to tempt me with more "feminine" footwear laughed about this.
This year, when I went for my mother’s 80th, I got my aunt to teach me how to can peaches. I figure it makes sense to can them where they grow and then transport them. She cans them the same way my grandmother did them. Basically, scald the peaches, peel and pit (cut up, cut out any bad spots, etc.). Boil up sugar syrup (my aunt did 1 cup sugar to 4 cups water; clearly we are not from the South). Put peaches in syrup, return to the boil. Meanwhile, have the jars and lids bubbling away in a pot of water. When the peaches are ready fill the jars (she wore rubber gloves and just picked up the jars out of the boiling water, scooping peaches and juice in with a 1 cup measure), use an ordinary dinner knife to get the bubbles out, top up with syrup. Put the lids on tight. Wipe and turn upside down on the counter. She had an aluminum pie plate to set the jar in while filling and all the excess syrup got poured back into the pan.
You’ll note we didn’t put the filled jars back in boiling water. My grandmother did this for years. My aunt is now 85. I am not aware of any cases of botulism so I’m taking that as enough evidence that this is good enough.
My aunt used to make chili sauce (a misnomer since it doesn’t have chili in it. It’s a tomato relish.). She says she didn’t even sterilize the jars, just swish them with boiling water and fill. She figured the vinegar would deal with any bugs. Again, no evidence to the contrary.
Clearly the USDA and probably whatever the Canadian equivalent is are going nuts at the thought. But I’m kind of happy to know that my instincts are not way off the map.
Also, I made chutney yesterday and both sterilized the jars and put the filled jars in boiling water for about 10 minutes afterwards.