The small, sweet stuff of life

You may remember that we had a big jam and jelly making session a few weeks ago.  One jar each of strawberry jam and raspberry jelly didn’t seal, so I put them in the fridge to be enjoyed right away.

In the summer, I usually eat my breakfast long before anyone else – I’m the official morning person of the family, and especially in good weather, actually enjoy the morning chores; the bonus of rising early, besides all the beauty, is the peace and quiet of some toast and tea with a book before the noise and hubbub of the day begin.  I hope you see how this might relate to the jam and jelly.

I had reached that part of the day in which I’ve tucked my bookmark into the pages, grabbed the laundry basket and got started.  The others had by then meandered in and out for their own breakfasts, and my husband brewed up a pot of coffee for us to share before he headed out for work.  We’re not at our conversational best in the mornings – I may say I’m a morning person, but this describes my ability to get up early consistently, not much else.  My husband is not a morning person, no matter how you define it.

So we idly discussed the weather, errands, and our preferences for raspberry jelly or strawberry jam.  And things got heated, right there.  Because though we tasted them both from a spoon when we first made them, I have only been eating the strawberry jam on my morning toast.  And he didn’t believe me.  The jar of raspberry was almost empty, I must have been eating it without noticing.  How could I NOT notice the difference, I protested?  I have definitely been eating the strawberry.  Besides, one is jam, with mashed fruit in it, the other is jelly, no fruit, though as I say that I realize that the fruit in the jam was all at the top, the bottom half is pretty much jelly.  He showed me the half empty jar from the fridge.  At this point, I’m thinking:  wow, married more than 20 years, and we can still have the dumbest discussions… “Fine. Whatever.  I guess I didn’t notice the difference” (I CANNOT believe I can’t tell the difference).  He’s practically euphoric – caught the locavore bluffing,  how great is that!  And we settle back with our coffee and chat about less controversial stuff like politics instead.

Then yesterday, he pulled both jars out of the fridge, and apologized.  Turns out he didn’t realize both jars were in there.  He thought we’d finished the strawberry a week ago.  I was gracious and nice about it.  I smiled, and enjoyed my coffee…and the moment.

This morning for breakfast, on my own as usual, I had bread and butter and jam for breakfast.  Actually jam AND jelly.  Just a little taste test.

Whew.  Yup, I can definitely tell the difference.  If he ever blindfolds me on this one, I’ll be fine.  Isn’t it great when you can let the small stuff go?

Can you tell the difference?

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Jam Session

The girls have been helping me with jam and canning the last couple of years, but this was the first year where I really stepped back and just kept an eye on things.  Which meant I got to take pictures of the process.

I follow the instructions from Bernardin, the Canadian answer to the Ball Company.  I use regular pectin and white sugar.  I know, I know.  But remember that I’m fulfilling two purposes today – I’m stocking my larder with homemade jam for the winter, but I’m also training my girls to be able to this themselves, someday for their own larders.  I want guaranteed success at this stage, not the up and down results of experimentation.  And some of what they learned today made them ask questions about the ingredients.  Hands on is the best way to learn.

Washed berries

taking turns mashing the berries

Really, they love each other

Wow Mum, there’s a lot of sugar in jam! Yup…

Rolling boil for a full minute, are you serious?

Does finger tight mean your fingers or mine?

Science at work, creating a vacuum

10 jars of jam, 1 didn’t seal, guess we’ll just have to eat it!