Nature is a great provider.
In our grandparents day, the kitchen was the place to be in winter. Remember a time without electricity where only the kitchen had a wood burning stove that more or less was in full swing all day long. My Dad sometimes tells me stories of how as a young boy of 7 he had to get up at the crack of dawn to light and make the fire. Believe me making a fire is not so easy and those times I struggled to get a simple fire going ( in my 40's ) I would think of how my Dad made a fire at such a young age.
Everyone lives a more modern lifestyle now, yet some things are ingrained in our psyches. The kitchen is still the place to hang out during winter. You know, it gives you a sense of warmth that goes beyond the obvious. It envelops your soul in a warm cotton wool feeling of comfort. As you step in these country kitchens, the day brightens and brightens a few shades more when coffee and home baked cake are to be had.I have been in a lot of different kitchens lately and almost all of them had a little pantry off it where there were rows and rows of home made jams. Jams in all shapes, colours and sizes. All of them had neat labels on the glass jar. This is a trick I am going to use this summer because to be honest, our jams don't all have a label. At the time of making them, I thought that naturally I would know cherry from a plum. But as we were so very prolific in our jam production, going into our earth cellar is a bit of a lucky draw. On top of which our earth cellar is dark and spooky. Lingering in there is not something I tend to do.
As you know, our garden is blessed with about 20 fruit trees of all types and friends offered fruit from trees they didn't use ( quince and apricot ). Our jam collection is in a range of colours: reds, oranges, blues and purples. Rather pretty.
The moment you taste your own homemade jam that is it. There is no going back. Apart from knowing you've created this delectable spread, the taste is vastly superior to anything store bought and mass produced.
- Cherry jam that still smacks of that sweet & tart aroma. A jam that has the most abundantly rich purple colour. Combined with a liberal covering of butter it makes a simple bread and jam event a gourmet excursion.
- Plum jam is even more special in our home and in our village. Plums have to compete with the enthusiastic Schnapps makers. Unless you are quick to pick those plums ( and guard them with zeal ), they end up providing a base for a good schnapps. Yes, plum jam is a treasure.
- Apple or pear jam was a new creation for us but one that is just as useful. Those oh so cold winter afternoons almost hypnotically entice me to whip up a batch of pancakes. Pancakes with apple jam on top....yummy.
- Should you ever get a jar of Blackberry jam from Bob & I, count yourself lucky. For this jam we had to go walking in the forest and pick the berries one at a time. F.Y.I those twigs are full of thorns!
- I am afraid that I can't comment much on our Apricot jam. Now and again we get a bucket of apricots from my Mom's neighbour or we " borrow " some from the vacant house up the road but there are never large quantities. Maybe this is why it is always used up before I get a chance to have some!
At times our modern way of life and all that goes along with it, makes me yearn for an anchor that keeps me grounded and in the moment. It sounds cheesy but making jam is one of those activities that make sense...