Adventures in Preserving Fruit

You may remember I went apple picking back in the fall.  After making tarts and muffins, I got the big idea to make jelly.  My father and I went shopping and had bewildered conversations about what equipment I should buy.  Whereas my Mom, perhaps foreshadowing events to come, suggested I might want to try making jam first.

Nevertheless, I jumped in.  One of these days, I may learn to listen to my Mother.

Things were going pretty well when I suddenly noticed the thermometer I was using had broken – in the jelly.  Since I had hoped to give this jelly for Christmas, spreadable shards of glass didn’t exactly seem to convey the spirit of the season that I was going for.  

At this point, I placed a hysterical call my mother.  By and by, I calmed down enough to line a sieve with paper towel, run the stupid jelly through and continue cooking it.  I thought, somehow, it might all work out but in the morning, the jelly was only partially set.

They say it’s not impossible to save a failed batch of jelly.  Basically, you add some sugar, some acid (lemon juice) and some pectin.  You recook it, rejar it, reprocess it and it’s supposed to be fine.  So here I was, in the process of removing the jars from the canner for the second time in two days (now the third night of jelly-making because the first night is spent making the base of apple juice), when Kellie called.  I could have asked her to hang on a second, but instead I continued plucking the jars from the boiling water with one hand.  This genius decision resulted in a  foot-long scald on my arm.

After all that, you will be incredibly surprised to hear that when it cooled, my jelly still looked like this:


Happily, this apple jelly actually tastes fine, so at least it wasn’t a waste of apples.  But no gel, no victory.  So much for my Suzy Homemaker Christmas presents. 

Anyway, that is how it came to pass that on our way to pick blueberries this weekend, The Egyptian inquired as to what I was planning to do with a 4 litre bucket of blueberries anyway and I said,  Maybe I’ll try making jam.  What do you think? 

And he said, simply, No.

I cannot blame The Egyptian for feeling this way.  Given that practically a year has gone by, the mania that surrounded the making of the apple jelly has not been adequately described above.

I tried to talk myself out of jam-making but I deduced that I would still have a lot of leftover berries even once quickbreads, muffins and crisps have been made … and the jam called for 8 whole cups …

Whether jam is just more likely to pan out, the fact that I chose a recipe from the boring (but reliable) Canadian Living instead of a random blogger’s recipe or my severely limited expectations, I don’t know, but this time it worked!  The bit of jam left in my dutch oven had gelled before my jars even came out of the water bath.  And it is delicious! 

Thank goodness.  I’m not sure what would have happened if I’d had two preserving disasters in a row.  Not much, I guess.  I’d quietly put the canner in the donation box and The Egyptian would quietly take it to a donation centre.  But now, we know there will be at least one more chapter in this odyssey. 

Oh yes.  Marmalade.

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