To know God and to make Him known.

Life Lessons I Learned from Canning Tomatoes




I was going to write a post about how to prepare for Latin for this school year, but then I realized that you could just read my article from last year to help you prepare (


Instead of writing such a post, I thought I might ruminate on some things I have pondered while canning tomatoes in the past few weeks.


1) What the world considers best is not the best. The fancy, shiny tomatoes and vegetables seen in the grocery store are not the best. The best food (ut mihi videatur, “as it seems to me”) is food not processed and manipulated to look the best. Food produced as closely as possible to the way God gives it to us is optimal. Canning tomatoes are usually the ugliest of the ugly; however, they make the best sauce! The beautiful red tomatoes that the world usually wants and thinks to be beautiful are the ones that do not work well for canning. It is the same for us: God cares what is on the inside and we are best when we are not influenced by the world’s view of beauty and excellence.


2) Space is needed for expansion. While canning, we need to take into consideration the amount of headspace we leave in each jar. If we fill the jars all the way to the top, the tomatoes cannot expand in the jar and the seal will not form. If we do not fill the jars full enough, there may be spoilage of the tomatoes because we leave room for mold, mildew, and discoloring. For me, this means not filling my jar too full with things that are not important for my daughters’ education. If they are overcommitted, they are not going to focus on the things that are important. However, not doing enough of the important things is not going to make them successful either. If they do not have enough practice in Bible, reading, writing, and math, we shall be leaving room for things that are not tools for their success (i.e., television).


3) The right tools make all of the difference. Every year in which I have canned, I have acquired better tools. The first year, I had only a baby food mill for making my sauces. Oh, how laborious that was! Last year, I bought a canning food mill at a hardware store. It made such a difference in the time and quality of my sauces. This year, I bought a tomato corer which saved me at least an hour of work. Our home schools are the same way. Certain tools are necessary in order for our home school to work. This is one thing I truly love about Classical Conversations: the tools they provide are the tools that work for me. The CC Connected subscription, the Writing Road to Reading and Institute for Excellence in Writing materials are wonderful and helpful. It saves me time not to have to search for materials, but rather to look for help from people who have homeschooled longer than I have.


4) The more work done on anything makes one appreciate it more. We homeschool parents understand this as well as anyone does. When you pour your time and energy into something, you recognize the value in it. It is so much easier to go to the store, grab the pasta sauce and pay for it. It may even be less expensive than making it yourself! However, when you taste your homemade sauce and know the labor you put into it, you are much more thankful for it. Knowing your child can read makes you thankful; however, knowing that you poured some of your life into teaching your child to read and seeing any struggles, makes you even more thankful! Latin is the same way: you have to work hard to retain Latin and, therefore, it makes you realize the value in it.


5) Directions must be carefully adhered to in order to do something correctly. Canning involves so many different things. In order to be safe, you must have hot sterile jars, hot sauces and the correct lids. If your jars are not hot enough, they may break when you put your sauce into them. If your sauces are not hot when putting them into the jars, you run a great risk of spoilage. If your lids are not new or the rims of your jars are not clean, your jars may not seal. This reminds me of God and how He gives us exact directions in the Bible. If we want to please Him, we need to do the things He delineates in the Bible. We should not do things willy-nilly and expect them to turn out correctly. We need to seek His direction in our lives in order for the contents of our jars not to spoil.


I hope that you have a wonderful first few weeks of school! Please let me know any Latin questions you have that I might use for future articles (

CATEGORIES: Articles, Big Ideas: Truth, Beauty, Goodness and more!, Classical Christian Education, Dialectic Stage (ages 12 to 14), Grammar Stage (ages 4 to 11), Homeschooling Life, Rhetoric Stage (ages 14 to 18)

Leave a Comment