It seems that I have been making jams and jellies since I was “knee high to a grasshopper.” Now there’s an old fashioned country saying that just popped out of my head from who knows where. But maybe there is a reason for it. Every time I am canning or making jam or jelly my heart and mind soar back 50 plus years to our kitchen on Berry Road and I am face to face with my Grandma Burchett and my Mom. And I am 8 years young, not 62 years old. It’s mid August and the sun is high. The kitchen is so steaming hot. Mom is at the stove scalding peaches. Gram is sitting at the table slipping the skins off the peaches and pitting them. I’m the “gofer” bringing more peaches, getting more jars, emptying the scraps, washing dishes as these two women work in synchronous motion as if they have been canning peaches all their lives. Oh wait….they have been canning peaches together all their lives! Grandma started Mom when she was “knee high to a grasshopper” and now they are teaching me. Not so much with words but with actions. As is so typical with a child, I take it all in visually so much more than what I hear. It’s the sight of the half pint and quart size glass canning jars. The bushels of peaches. The sacks of sugar. The ever growing mounds of peach skins and pits. The aroma of sweet peaches being made into jam and peach halves being canned in syrup to sustain us all through the long cold New York State winter. It’s the easy camaraderie of my Mom with her Mom. Mom skimming the foam off the jam as it cooks and giving me a treat by spreading it on warm homemade bread. No culinary delight is better than that! But it is sooooo hot in that kitchen. I’m 8 years old. Sometimes I just can’t stand the tiresome all day work and the heat and the smells, so why then why, do I continue to this day making homemade jam and jelly in the August heat when I could easily go to the grocery store and buy a jar? Well, of course homemade is so delicious. Store bought can never compete. But it is more than that. This tradition takes me back to two women that I loved beyond measure. To my childhood with a three generation family living together and teaching each other. Where Mother, Daughter and Grand Daughter shared love, tradition and hope. So with that, I hope Gram and Mom some how know the gift they gave to me. The gift of family and love and caring for each other. And I hope they know how much I love making jam and jelly because of them.
18 jars of Apricot Jam today!
There is an old Apricot tree in our Orchard that has never given us one single piece of fruit in the 5 years since we have lived here. All that changed this year for reasons we really don’t understand. This year we had at least a Bushel of Apricots.
And today, I’m going to show you how I turned sweet, juicy Apricots into sweet, fruity jam.