Yesterday I did something I’ve always wanted to do but was too afraid to try…I gave making jam a shot. After all, it’s the Summer of Me and I can do whatever I want…even if it’s failing.
To understand my fear of making my own jelly, jam, preserves, whatever you want to call it, you have to understand what I grew up with — my mother. If ever there was a poster child for perfectionism, my mother would be the one to win that contest. Hands down. That voice I hear in my head telling me I’m doing it wrong? It’s hers. The drive that I have to do things to absolute perfection? Yep, came from her. I’m amazed that I can breathe and function as an adult because according to her I couldn’t do anything the right way.
And my mother could preserve anything. ANYTHING. She would make jellies and relishes and pickles and chow chow and preserves and things you can’t even imagine putting in jars. Our basement was a shrine to her canning prowess. Growing up with all that, you’d think I’d know a trick or two. But I don’t. I’ve never ladled anything into a hot jar. I’ve never measured pectin (or even knew what pectin was) before yesterday. I never purchased a single Ball jar in my entire life.
She never let us into the kitchen when she was canning. Sure, we could hull strawberries, cut corn off the cob, clean cucumbers, and pick a mountain of peaches, but that’s where our preserving education stopped. My sisters and I were not worthy to enter the sacred inner sanctum where the real magic happened. Making jam was to be a rite only performed by the High Priestess.
Fast forward to the present day. While getting my hair cut, my stylist told me that she and her children went out strawberry picking. They came home with more berries than they could eat. She offered me a huge bag of freshly picked, already hulled strawberries. How could I refuse her offer of help? Hadn’t I just written a post about my lesson learned accepting help from others?
I had my making jam excuses playing in my head:
- I don’t have jars
- I don’t have a big enough pot
- I don’t have the ingredients
- I don’t know what I’m doing
- What if I do this and I end up introducing my family to the joys of food poisoning?
Screw it! I drove to the nearest store and bought my canning supplies. One big canning pot, a jar holder, funnel, and set of pint glassware later, I was ready to go. The great thing about being a mobile society is having access to answers on the fly. A big thank you to The Pioneer Woman for her excellent tutorial on canning and strawberry jam! With my mobile phone and her website in hand, I had my shopping list. No more excuses.
I followed the recipe to the letter and stirred. I mentally shot the finger at my mom’s voice telling me I was going to fail. I scooped hot mixture into jars. And when all was said and done, I had 8 little jars of strawberry jam cooling on my kitchen window sill.
I had so much fun making the strawberry jam! What a sense of accomplishment! Even Son #1 commented about the goodness of the jam. Thank you for that validation…it just added to the pride I was already feeling on my own.
And after the kitchen was cleaned up, I decided to do it again…with peaches. Now I have 7 little jars of peach jam sharing the shelf with my strawberries.
Today I’m trying cherry jelly. Wish me luck!