November 23, 2007 - A peek into Charles Totherow's pantry
There are over 1,500 jars of home canned food in Charles Totherow's pantry. The colorful array includes pickles, relishes, soups, beans, okra, squash, peas, corn, tomatoes, sauerkraut, country sausage, fruits, and jam. If it grows in the south, Charles has probably canned at least one run of it this year.
Charles grows a lot of what he cans. He says, "The garden, the yard, and canning are a big part of my life. I canned over 1,500 jars of stuff this year including putting up 114 jars of relish in one night." He continues, "Relishes and pickles are my specialty. I grow lots of peppers and try to develop new recipes every year."
Charles lives with wife Ann in the Coosa area of Union County . "We were born and raised here," says Charles. My mother, Netta Mae, canned food every summer. I watched her and helped whenever I could. I guess that's when I started canning. It really helps me to relax. I don't think about work when I'm in the kitchen or garden."
Charles has his own kitchen in the basement. Charles' canning room is fully furnished with sparkling clean appliances and walk-in pantries. Jars of home canned foods line the shelves. What does he do with all this food? Charles says, "I give it away and I eat it." Ann adds, "He shares a lot of it with family members and friends."
Charles keeps most of his recipes in his head. He says, "This year I put nineteen vegetables in my soup. I added everything I could find. We eat a lot of soup, but October beans are one of my favorite things. We also eat a lot of Crowder peas, green beans, relish, and jam." He goes on to share some helpful hints. "Never use county water for canning because of the chlorine and chemicals. It will ruin the taste."
Charles Totherow, owner of Totherow Builders, has been active in the Blairsville construction business for many years and is also part owner of Highland Building Supply. Charles and Ann are well known in the community and have many close friends and family members in Union County. Charles and his home canning "hobby" were featured in Country Extra Magazine in 2002. Canning 1,500 jars of food doesn't seem like a lot to Charles. He says, "I canned 1,800 jars in 2000. We'll have to wait and see what 2008 brings."