I had to take a picture of the freshly canned jars of plum jam on my kitchen counter today. It is very satisfying to see them there…the finished product of a long afternoon of stirring, burning my fingers on hot jars and dried out hands from washing all my pots 3 times for 3 batches of jam. This all started a few days ago when I was rummaging through my freezer for some idea of what to cook for dinner. My freezer is a chest type that is very deep (in order to reach something at the bottom, my feet come off the floor), things can become lost in there, lurking at the bottom. So I was pleasantly surprised at finding some plum puree that I had made last Fall! (talk about procrastinating…heh) I looked at it, deciding it wasn’t freezer burned or too old, pulled it out to thaw and went looking for my canning equipment.
I haven’t canned anything in years….between summers here with no air conditioning, busyness at the beginning of Fall when I used to can stuff, and the high cost of produce here, it didn’t seem worth the effort. So when I was given a huge box of plums last Fall, I dove in washing, pitting and dicing plums for a couple of afternoons! Then I promptly put the puree in the freezer, thinking I would make jam when the weather got cooler…enter going to work every day last Fall and you have forgotten fruits.
Like the Little Red Hen, I asked each of my older kids if they’d like to learn how to can…..rejection. Maggie, my 8 year old, buzzed in and out of the kitchen wanting to help, but due to ill timing and boiling hot jam that needed constant stirring, my one willing helper was shooed off…..oh, the rejection. This all turned into a marathon jam event and by the third batch, I was slopping the sticky stuff into jars as fast as I could so I could rest.
I have to say though, that it was worth all the work to see the finished product, all pretty, lids pinging into preserving perfection, all lined up on the counter. My daughter commented that we still had some jars of jam in the cupboard and pulled out about 8 jars with handwritten labels on top: blueberry jam, applebutter, apricot. Now I know that the only jam I have canned since moving to Arizona is the applebutter, so that meant the other jars were over 8 years old! Gross! I threw those out, but let her open the applebutter. It was several years old, I know…but it was still sealed and made the appropriate poof noise upon opening, but it looked kind of iffy. I guess it was fine because she ate some and was fine, but I couldn’t bear to have any myself.
The fruit of my labor years ago was not very appetizing….kinda stale and funky, but there is a fruit that will never spoil and always looks good and pleasant to experience wherever it is cultivated: