On very few occasions would my kitchen qualify for the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval for tidiness.

On very few occasions would my kitchen qualify for the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval for tidiness.

But on this particular afternoon, things were especially bad. Anyone who has spent a day putting up a supply of jams or jellies already has conjured the image and would understand that after five hours of paring, pitting, slicing, stirring, sweating and lugging massive amounts of food and canning supplies around my kitchen, I'm ready for a nap.

So when my husband entered the scene and gazed admiringly upon the row of gleaming jars, I found little comfort in his words: "I think we could really say our life was in order if we were preserving all of the food this family needed."

I edited my response down to two words: "Get real."

But the truth is there are plenty of families doing just that. Really. And I admire them tremendously. They move through the preserving season, from fruit to vegetable, U-pick field to roadside stand, ferreting out the freshest, most bountiful offerings of summer.

One neighbor on our block was displaying over two dozen CARTONS of surplus canning jars at a garage sale. They were all pints and half-pints, she explained, as I combed hungrily through the precious cache. Her family was using only quarts now.

How many did she normally use? I asked.

She pointed to the upper shelves in the garage where another two dozen cartons of quart-sized jars lined the walls. After calculating the number of kitchen hours those jars represented, I just wanted to go lie down.

So, in honor of these energetic souls about to take up permanent residence in their kitchens as they frantically capture summer's essence for those leaner months, I dedicate this week's column.

Not that they'll notice. They're all out picking rhubarb.

Jan Roberts-Dominguez is a Corvallis food writer, artist and author of "Oregon Hazelnut Country, the Food, the Drink, the Spirit" and four other cookbooks. Readers can contact her by email at janrd@proaxis.com or obtain additional recipes and food tips on her blog at www.janrd.com.