Thursday, March 17, 2016

Making jam, a first!

We get several farm papers each week and most have a cooking section that usually consists of a young or not so young woman telling how they grew up learning how to cook by the side of their mother/grandmother. By the age of 8 or 10 they could put an entire meal for a threshing/baling crew on the table. Besides cooking 3 healthy meals each day for a family of 5/6/7/choose a number, they grow a huge garden, canning and freezing the produce for the a-fore mentioned healthy home cooked meals. That's all on top of holding down a full time job and helping hubby on the farm.

I read that and think - "PFFFTTTTT!!!!"

I grew up a tomboy, spending my time outside and feeling very put upon having to do dishes each night with my sister. Our Mom was one of those women who had a huge garden and canned all the produce to feed her hungry family over the winter. This was done in a small kitchen with no air conditioning, just a fan to move the hot, muggy air around. From there all the jars went into an underground cellar that could only be reached by trudging through snow drifts.

It was a lot of work but did I appreciate it at the time? N-O-O-O-O! It was as though a magic fairy appeared each evening and spread the table with good food. I continued my tomboy ways into adulthood and only cooked because I didn't have an Applebees attached to my house. Canning? Never! As my friend, Laura, pointed out, there are people who make a living canning, who am I to deprive them of a job?"

But then a few things happened, sister, Sara, and her hubby, Max, bought out the end of season bushes and perennials from Lowe's in Sioux City. In that largess were red currant bushes and she asked if I would like some. They are great bushes for birds so I figured my chickens would also like them and planted six, three by the chicken coop and three by the greenhouse. 

The bushes grew and produced tiny red berries that the chickens loved and all was well with the world. Until - friend, Lisa, found out I was letting the chickens have all the little berries and told me currant jam is wonderful. She shamed me into picking all those tiny little berries and what a pain in the butt that was! But I picked, washed, froze and bagged red currants

Do these look like fun to pick? N-O-O-O-O!

I encouraged the chickens to help me out, they think they are delicious.

Lisa's mother, Dorothy, is a master canner, I had bags of berries that I had no idea what to do with so I called Dorothy and offered them to her to turn into yummy jam. Instead, she told me to bring them to her house and she would help me turn them into yummy jam. That was an offer I couldn't pass up so we finally found a date that worked for both of us.

Dorothy studies the recipe that Lisa sent her....

.....and studies some more.

The currants go in the pot first to cook till soft.

Dorothy couldn't find her sieve so she wrapped the berries in cheesecloth and squeezed the juice out of them. (I took the mash back home to the chickens, I thought they would love it, they didn't.)

The juice was returned to the pot along with red raspberries, some pectin and sugar and thoroughly stirred. 

(Note to self - when using frozen red raspberries from Rosanne's berry patch, pick them over carefully to rid them of the little black picnic bugs.)


As the jam bubbles and cooks down, it's time for a break, coffee and a brownie before slaving over the hot stove again.

Being the master canner that she is, Dorothy is watching for all the drips to coalesce into a single slow drip.  

Into the hot jars, topped with hot lids and into the boiling canner to seal.

Out of the boiling canner and onto a towel to wait for the 'ping' that says the jar is sealed.

The final product, I repeat, YUM, YUM!!

The loot - YUM, YUM!

We divvied up the spoils and then Dorothy presented me with a fresh loaf of homemade bread to test out the product. 

YUM, YUM!!!!!

1 comment:

  1. Yum indeed...again, ah the bread! I too have never canned so I suppose I am the only one in the family now who takes the bottom position on that task. Seems what I DiD do in my youth was help Mama wash all those dang jars and lids. So many of them!! But OH!! the reaping of the work in the middle of the winter. Those older generations ladies sure knew a good thing.