The Women Folk are Canning Fruit: 1908

canning jars in pantry 1907


You ask me why I weep and moan

Like some lost spirit in despair,

And why I wander off alone,

And paw the ground and tear my hair?

You ask me why I pack this gun,

All loaded up, prepared to shoot?

Alas, my troubles have begun—

The women folk are canning fruit!

There Is no place for me to eat,

Unless I eat upon the floor;

And peelings get beneath my feet

And make me fall a block or more;

The odors from the boiling jam

All day assail my weary snoot;

You find me, then, the wreck I am—

The women folks are canning fruit!

Oh, they have peaches on the chairs,

And moldy apples on the floor,

And wormy plums upon the stairs,

And piles of pears outside the door;

And they are boiling pulp and juice;

And you may hear them yell and hoot;

A man’s existence is the deuce—

The women folk are canning fruit!

The Emporia [KS] Gazette 20 August 1908: p. 1

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Even without the citation, Mrs Daffodil would know that this is an American poem because, in England, the correct, and vastly more accurate term, is “bottling fruit.”  It is jarring to hear the Americanism “canning,” when the container is glass.

To judge by the range of articles on “scientific canning,” and the perils of scalding fruit and exploding canning jars found in the vintage papers of the States, the subject was no joking matter.

Mrs Daffodil is indignant to report that she has found only one joke on the subject that meets her exacting standards of humour:

The Vermont housewife who read that English nobles have lots of hares in their preserves, says she tried it to the extent of putting a whole chignon into some blackberry jam, and the jam didn’t seem a bit better for it.

Kalamazoo [MI] Gazette 2 August 1881: p. 2

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdote

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.


3 thoughts on “The Women Folk are Canning Fruit: 1908

  1. Cymbaline

    Heehee! That was delightful! I had to make time to read this post as I was recently gifted with a surplus explosion of blueberries from a friend. Do I dare create the fruit everywhere, steam flattening my hair into a beaver pelt, slip-and-slide chaos of attempting jam while Husband is working at home during Covid-19? He’s never witnessed the mounds of peelings, spilled sugar, stacks of bowls, or frantic recalculations when forced to cook overflow in a second pot. Row upon row of “end product” – sterilized jars filled with glistening fruit spread – is all I’ve ever allowed him to see (and yes, I know that makes me sound like a 1940’s housewife who’ll only undress in the dark.) Since all marriages should be “refreshed” periodically, I may give it a go (but I’m hiding all his bullets beforehand …)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ruth Beaty

    That “joke” was…not terribly funny…is the kindest thing I can say, lol.The person assumes women of the day didn’t know the difference between hair and hare. Not nitpicking here, just sayin’. I know, different days, different sense of humor.
    That aside, I have made it to a veritable, not overly venerable, age (not sayin’ on that, either) without learning to can, unfortunately. It always just seemed like too much work and I remember grandma and mom doing it in the days before air conditioning. Add that to raising four kids and generally having some kind of job…
    Dad bought a huge freezer one year when he worked for Sears (that’s how we afforded clothes, etc. for six kids, mind you) and there wasn’t much canning after that. We even had plastic boxes of his yummy pizza sauce in it for years. I think there was still some in there when I moved back into the house for a short time with hubby and two kids about 12 or 14 years later! And mom’s Maytag washer and dryer were still there with it and in good working order.
    My husband fortunately had no illusions about what went on when I cooked so it didn’t matter. He knew I wasn’t overly fond of it but could manage to turn out reasonably good food, just not can anything. Again, freezers are handy things!

    Liked by 1 person


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