about bliss

Thursday, July 03, 2008

jam (and) bands

I just made jam! I mean, I've made jam before--the quick kind that you store in the fridge because you're going to eat it soon, slathered on biscuits or with some koeze's peanut butter in a delicious sandwich. But this time I CANNED the jam. I have visions of gleaming berry jewels stored on my shelf to carry me through a long winter, and today was the first step in realizing that vision.

Yesterday I drove to the berry farm and bought 2 quarts, sliced and sugared them, cooked for 5 minutes until the sugar dissolve, hit with a splash of orange juice, and then refrigerated overnight, a la Russ Parson's advice in How to Eat a Peach (a delectable and useful book in its own right). I was rather cursing myself for buying the berries and starting the project amidst a hectic and stressful week, but Parson was right--it's not that hard. Today I cooked the berries and juice in small batches on the stove as the jars sterilized, and then ladled the hot molten jam into the jars and plunked them in a water bath for 10 minutes. Simple. And all to the jammin' rhythms of the Dave Matthews Band.

I bought pint jars--in retrospect I would buy smaller jars because after this whole process I only have 2 pint jars. But oh, they are lovely, an opaque ruby-crimson that promises sweetness to come. I'm thinking of how much our ancestors lives were filled with labor to provide for the future--all the canning and preserving of foods available now that wouldn't be available later. They knew the heady power of delayed gratification, as well as the treasure of the taste of sweetness when the snow whirls outdoors. It was a necessity and now, in many ways, it is a luxury to have the chunk of time to devote to preserving our own foods. Does this not seem somehow skewed, slant, wrong?

I just heard the first ping...


  1. Yum!

    I wonder where the balance lies...I think it is definitely skewed to think that we don't have time to do things like nourish ourselves (body AND soul). Yet I would most certainly not want to return to the time of our great-grandmothers, working slavishly in the summer heat to put up food, and all the limited choices for women in that time.

    Such a dilemma! I am glad that you carved out a little time to do this--you're inspiring me to think of jam.

  2. so true...

    hey, why won't anyone pay me to stay at home and write and do food stuff?!?

    i'm mostly kidding--i'm not sure that life would be the best for me, but sometimes i long for a slightly different professional life (author) that would give me more space to nourish myself fully.

  3. Because then I would go completely insane at work!

    I hear you, though. If I'm ever independently wealthy, I'll pay you so you can choose your hours and use the rest of the time to do food stuff. I might require that I get to help with the research though...