Sunday, July 01, 2007

Wham, Jam, Thank You, Ma'am

Sometimes I'm not really sure if I should be allowed to operate kitchen equipment in the morning, despite my long-held conviction that I am, in fact, one of those infernally content morning persons that most people don't understand.

And yet, into the kitchen first thing in the morning I go.

Aside from dropping a wine glass (empty, thank you, and no, it had not been full a little earlier) on the hardwood floor and breaking it into tiny shards all around my bare feet while I attempted to pull together my breakfast, I managed to start the day without further mishap, and after a pause to sip my tea, I decided to risk heading back to the stove to start on a batch of raspberry jam just for the sake of getting it done.

I picked up more canning jars last evening, and I got half a dozen washed up without dropping or otherwise damaging any of them. So far, so good.

Then I washed and crushed the red raspberries in my old beat-up saucepan, adding some good local honey to sweeten the mix. And I counted my lucky stars for not having used the food processor for the task when I managed to fish a small beetle out of the berries before I got going. (Oh, don't get so disgusted. You probably ate dirt as a kid. Didn't kill you, did it? Just goes to show you that pesticides aren't a major concern with my food... so there.)

After that little adventure, I figured I was pretty well through my daily quota of catastrophes (though I'm still knocking on wood), so I fired up the stove and heated up the canner and set the jam on to boil.

I do love the smell of berries cooking down into jam, by the way. That, and the rapturous vision of gleaming jars of ruby-colored preserves glowing from my pantry are about the only things that keep me at the stove, stirring and stirring and stirring, for the length of time required to make jam. And surprisingly, I didn't add anything else to the jam: no pectin (no way), no refined sugar, no herbs, no other fruit. Just raspberries and honey.

Eventually, though, the jam was ready, the jars were sterilized, and it was high time the two got together and became friends.

I filled six half-pint jars and a good portion of a seventh, added lids and rings, and popped them into the canner for a 15-minute hot water bath. When I took them out then, I was greeted by a succession of little pops from the jars as they sealed.

See how easy it was to make that vision of jewel-filled jars come true?

I will probably save a jar for My Dear Papa, who greeted my mention of jam-making on the phone last night with his usual humorous enthusiasm, but beyond that, I doubt anyone else will get any of this jam. It's rare that I make raspberry jam (strangely enough, since it's one of my favorites), and I intend to make this last. (So don't even think about bribing me.)

And I think that before I head into the kitchen yet again to forage for lunch, I'm going to count my blessings that the jam turned out so well with such an inauspicious start!


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