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...