Sunday, September 30, 2012

Jam and a revelation


My dad, a total extrovert who knew everybody and had friends in every corner of the universe, a local hangout in a dozen different cities, would now and then come mysteriously into possession of a huge basket of peaches, or somehow a giant tray of strawberries, somebody somewhere would gift him with their garden windfall, and he’d then spend an entire Saturday making jam and canning it.  It steamed up the kitchen and made the wallpaper bubbly, got every single pan and spoon dirty, and afterwards, the pantry was bulging with jars that glowed like jewels.  And so I continued to do, myself, once I had my own kitchen and pantry and canner—a bushel of bruised fruit, sold at half price at the end of the market day found its way into my hands and then into jars.  The steam rose up the walls and up the stairs, making clothes and pillows soggy.  The walls dripped with damp.  And there were fifty pints of peach jam at the end of it all.  Which is great, and they still glowed, still gave that huge sense of satisfaction, that cozy feeling of hard work in preparation for the long winter, of stashing one’s metaphorical nuts like squirrels in the woods--except there was no room for it all in the cupboards.  We ate jam every morning, spread on toast.  We paired it with peanut butter.  Everybody got jam for Christmas, and still there was more peach jam, until everybody was just completely sick of it.  We are still working on this apparently endless supply of peach jam, and I tell you, I’m over it.  A little variety would be nice.

Er, how about smaller batches?  Hello.  I feel kind of dumb for thinking it wasn’t worth the bother of canning unless it took forty pounds of fruit and six bags of sugar and an entire weekend.  Then this book came along, and I totally saw the light, and one cantaloupe and a vanilla bean became this:


It made six jars.  There’s not even enough to share. 


  1. What a lovely story! Beautifully written!!
    I usually can figs during the Month of November and give as gifts for's wonderful on biscuits! Hope you have a wonderful week Kristen!!

  2. It looks gorgeous, I love this story about your Dad, he sounds like quite a character.

  3. Wow, I could picture the steam and smell the peaches! I always stayed away from canning just because it seemed like so much hot, tiresome work, and you had to keep going till all the fruit or vegetables were gone. This book looks like a revelation. Small batches! Who would have thought?

  4. Oh, I'd have loved your dad, he sounds much like my parents and my omas! I miss those days of creeping in just to steal a taste of the in- progress-batch, and return outside to play! Enjoy your smaller bounty! Looks delish, and as usual, loved your words. Tx

  5. Yum! That looks so good! I just found your blog not too long ago and I love it!

  6. It seems so yummy, but you don't have enough to share...sigh..!! :((
    Happy week, xxx Ale

  7. Kristen, I laughed out loud...a lot. I so loved the vivid description of the canning process that had me in homemade euphoria, then your punch lines leading to the conclusion one can have too much of a good thing...balance, variety, and little can be better :) Thanks for posting! Love from Gracie

  8. Thanks for this wonderful story, so hearty and warm :-). Making jam is something I enjoy, too, this year is really the first time that I have not done it up to this date. It's high time ;-). Your cantaloupe jam looks really tempting! It's my favorit type of melon, must keep it in mind for making jam, too :-)

  9. LoL! Thank you for that. :) I know what you speak of. I love making jam too and often give it away. I've started using it in muffin recipes to replace most or all of the sugar. My jam supply is finally dwindling.

  10. Fantastic! Imagine all the variety you have room for now!

  11. Wow - fancy having made enough to last more than two years - and how satisfying that you grew the fruit yourselves.
    Here in the UK we tend to make jam without the special canning jars and methods you use, so smaller batches tend to be the norm, but it's frustrating when you run out of strawberry jam in January.
    Your cantaloupe jam looks yummy!
    Have a good week Kristen!
    Gill xx

  12. ack. That book just made it onto my KIndle

  13. I've never made jam -- always afraid of the sterilizing side of it. But it seems everyone is making small batches that don't need to be stored for long periods, so sterilizing isn't necessary. :) That book looks like it is filled with lots of lovely ideas. Best wishes, Tammy

  14. Oh, I just loved this make me giggle every time I come visit! I've never had peach jam, and I'm a jam lover! Never made any either. I think I'm going to try it! xo

    That lampshade you made is fabulous!!!

  15. I love the way you write hon! I get so caught up it in all - I feel like I'm right there.

    It looks utterly delicious - the colour is stunning. I am now starving hungry!!

    Have a fabulous weekend.

  16. Have you ever read the children's book "Jam" by Margaret Mahy? Your account of peach jam reminded me of it.