Sunday, August 7, 2011

If you've never made jam...try it!

I'm addicted to making jam this year! We made strawberry jam in July, and raspberry and blueberry last week. Today was supposed pickling day, but the cucumbers aren't ready yet, so it's peach and cherry jamming day! We're going to make a salsa, a chutney, a spread, and a few jams! I thought it was quite awesome that we currently own 30% of a bushel of peaches (a bushel is 50 pounds, and we have 15, so it's 0.30 of a bushel!)

Every year I think about making jams and pickles, but most years I make a small batch and call it a day. (We did make strawberry and blueberry jam last year, but not pickles! We missed the season!) But this year, we've made it a point of picking up the ripe fruit of the week and making something fun with it. (We still have apple and pear season, as well as garlic and asparagus season, to enjoy yet!)

I think it's because we have so many wonderful local markets offering wonderful local produce, and there is such a taste difference between a cob of corn picked last week and one picked this morning! I can't believe how fantastic the peaches taste this week compared to last week, all because they had a little longer on the tree. We are so fortunate to live in the Valley where the food is plentiful! I get my eggs from my massage therapist (the chickens are so free range, they can end up wandering around her back garden), my veggies and fruits from the side of the road or from my local market, and my bread from my talented husband, who gets his flour from a local mill. I've always liked the idea of eating local, but if you read the book or watch the TV series, it seems like a lot of hard and annoying work! When friends drop by with a salmon they caught that morning or some corn picked that morning, that's not work - that's yummy!

We always invite our friends over for a jamming day, and for dinner, we have some kind of communal meal, like a crab boil (last week) or fajitas (tonight). It's a wonderful way to end a great day!

If you're looking for some recipes, we've been using two books - Put It Up and Well Preserved - as well as the B.C. (fruit name here) council. Bernardin, the makers of the jars, has some great recipes, and there are tons of ideas on line.

As an aside, Gina (a lovely reader of this blog) made me the most wonderful apron out of green gingham with a towel hanging from it so I can wipe my hands. I've been using it for formulating in the workshop, but it's been spending time in the kitchen with the jams, jellies, and other preserves. It's getting well used and well loved, and I can't thank you enough, Gina, for the kindness. I'll have to take a picture of it so you can see how well loved it is! 


Ben said...

Hi Susan! This is quite unrelated to your jam post, but here goes. I just received your lotion e-book, and am in the midst of reading it. It's great! You've done a splendid job of compiling all this useful information into one place, and I'm thoroughly enjoying it.

I had a quick question for you, though. I'm noticing that most of the products that you use in your lotions have a shelf life of around 1 year (even olive oil!?). This befuddles me a bit, because I've never noticed an expiration date on any of the lotions that are sold in stores. In fact, I inspected a Vaseline Cocoa Butter lotion yesterday for a date to no avail. What gives? What are they putting in their lotions that would allow them to be used by alien invaders 1000 years from now?


Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Ben! Thanks so much for the kind words. I'm going to write a blog post on this topic, but I hope this comment will do for now!

Look at the ingredient list on some store bought products! You'll see things like esters, mineral oil, and emollients with longer shelf lives. They will last longer - two to five years - than our products that contain all those lovely vegetable oils. The manufacturers load them up with various anti-oxidants, chelating, and preserving ingredients, which means they will last longer. Plus, they have nice bottles that ensure the product isn't exposed to light, heat, air, and so on.

They do go bad, though, and you'll smell it. It just takes so much longer than our products!

Robert said...

Jam was one of the few ways I could think of to use the mulberries I pick in June. They're so soft, they're almost jam when you pick them! I only tried jam once, though, to mail to a friend, and even then I sent it frozen IIRC. I tried to help preserving them by adding citric acid, and found the berries' oh-so-stainy pigment is pH-dependent.

Mychelle said...

I love your jam post! My mom recently moved to my town and we have been jamming. The best she has ever made was blackberry plum. Divine!

Lisa said...

Hi Susan,
Fun isn't it? My place is in the throes of marmalade madness at the mo.I helped my sister strip her citrus trees & ended up with bucketloads of lemons & oranges plus passionfruits(?) & eggs.Figure I'll try curd next.