Sunday, August 5, 2012

jars of jam

I've been busy lately...

It is all worth it come January, when there is no fruit to be found in the orchard.  There is nothing like warm homemade jam on waffles, or a bowl of ice cream, or even a regular old PBandJ.  Like a little taste of summer in a jar.

Admittedly, I have never loved to cook. Making jam, however, seems to combine my creative side and my love for chemistry. It is different than spending an hour in the kitchen making a meal that will be eaten in 9 minutes flat, leaving me with another half hour of clean-up.  That kind of cooking drives me up the kitchen wall.

A batch of jam is more like a craft.  And when I practice something enough, I begin to figure it out, and maybe actually get good at it. After batches and batches of jam I have determined just how we like it - with less sugar and plenty of tartness. A notable contrast from Smuckers.

Practice is funny that way. It can seem monotonous and mundane in the process. But in the end, a product emerges that we can stand behind, and even say we are proud of. Isn't it the same in life? Personally, we have been given certain gifts in abundance, like an amazing community of family and friends, and our health, and jobs, and freedom. We have to practice appreciating them, or let that abundance rot on the ground. Add a few key ingredients like gratitude, kindness, and unconditional love for the people in our lives, and soon we produce a cupboard full of blessings.

When life tosses you too much fruit, make jam!
Plum Jam(my current working recipe)
6 cups cut up plums (remove the pit, keep the skin on)
1/4 cup water (or less)
2 Tblsp lemon juice
--- Boil the above for 10 minutes
add 6 cups sugar 
--- Bring mixture to a rolling boil
add 1 package (3 Tbsp) Ball "Low or No Sugar Needed Pectin" 
--- Bring mixture to a boil for 1 full minute
--- Place into hot, sterilized jars and let cool.  See HERE for sterilization process.
--- Makes 8-9 cups of jam.

(Tip: The "Low or No Sugar Needed Pectin" is the key ingredient.  With other pectin types the recipes call for too much sugar in order to get the fruit to gel.  Then the jam can taste too sweet like store bought jam.)

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