Sunday, August 24, 2014

Jams and Jellies, i

This year, despite the cool temperatures, production's been pretty good.  Since Spring, I've put up a dozen or so jars of each of several different kinds of jams and jellies, mainly for gift-giving.  We don't eat a lot of sugary stuff.

Now, I have a whole politic / philosophy around the fruit used for preserving:  it has to be good, but not so good that one would rather eat it raw.  It also has to be cheap.  For this reason, I almost never use local stuff, unless I've foraged it.  We have such a short growing season in New England, that the fruits and veggies that we do have are *precious.*  For example:  I am totally willing to pay $6+ for a quart of local strawberries, but not to boil them for 1/2 an hour or more with sugar.  That stuff gets eaten raw.  However:  when the grocery stores start selling the California or Florida berries at maybe $1.50 - $2 / quart, I'm all over these deals.   Though it isn't my favorite, I like to make a lot of strawberry jam, as my friends seem to like it a lot.

Same goes for the peaches.  Gosh, how I miss my old place on Winter Hill with the weird, bug-bitten peach tree in the neighbor's yard.  Despite our best efforts, the fruit was more or less inedible unless cooked.  We made such good jam, cakes, pies and other pastries from those rock-hard fruits, though.  Maybe New England isn't Peach territory?  I would someday like to visit points further south (like Georgia, for example), to sample the fruit in season.  That not being possible right now, have sort of just resigned myself to the stuff that goes from rock-hard to moldy mush in as little as an afternoon.  At peak transport season, however, those rock-hard peaches for for something like $.70 / lb.  Prime Jam Fodder.

Jam time for me is dependent on the value of the bargain fruit, the price of sugar, whether or not I have enough jam jars / lids, and my energy levels.  When all of this comes together, am happy to spend a good day in the kitchen, even in mid-Summer, to make what becomes my main holiday gifts.

Apple Wine and Strawberry Jam.  My recipe for the jam's pretty well established, now.  The wine one needs tweaking, though.

A very interesting read:  Virginia Postrel's take on how both local food and trucked in stuff can (and should) happily cohabitate.  Please enjoy.

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