Strawberries and cherries are now in season
and I’ve enjoyed making jam this week.
We bought the strawberries, but the cherries
were from our son’s tree loaded with fast
As the summer progresse, more fresh fruits
will be available, and not able to eat them all
in a few days, I will preserve them to enjoy
during the coming year.
My mother liked to make guava jelly with wild
guavas growing abundantly near our farmhouse.
One year she made a hundred pints and
intended to sell some, but ended up giving
most away to friends and relatives.
We liked eating the jelly with peanut butter.
While I liked Mother’s jelly, I never had time to
make any until I retired to Chico.
But without Mother’s guidance, I learned jam
and jelly making by trial and error.
I read the directions on the box of pectin that’s
required to gel fruits that lack the natural
ones found in guavas and pineapples to learn
the correct method of cooking jams and jellies,
and that was indeed a learning experience to
Some of my first preserves were so
thick like jello they’d jiggle on the knife and
difficult to spread.
Others were too syrupy and only useful on
pancakes and waffles until we tired of it.
Although cooking preserves on my own came
after retirement, I recall in fourth grade I had
my first “hand-on” experience making marmalade
One day the teacher announced we were to
bring a paper bag of guavas to class and we’d
make marmalade together.
That sounded exciting and I picked my
share as soon as I got home after school.
The next day several of who remembered to
do the assignment set the pile of the fruits near the big
stock pot Teacher had borrowed from the
The fruits were washed the following day, the
stems cut off and each sliced and put into the
pot. Then water water was added to cover
Using a portable kerosene stove, the guavas
were boiled and allowed to cool until the
Then the cooled stew of guavas was put into
a cotton sack and hung so the juices could
On the last day of the project, the juice was
put back into the pot, sugar and some slices of
orange added, and cooked until it turned into
a thick syrup. Voila, marmalade!
Kids who wanted some to take home brought
jars with lids, but against my mother’s and
sisters’ advice, I stubbornly insisted I’d take
a pretty juice glass instead.
So much for my wilfullness, because as you
have guessed,without a lid, the glass of hot marmalade
was difficult to handle and I nearly burned
my hands even tho I used a piece of newspaper
to wrap it in. Moreover, some spilled as I
transported it on the bus, then on the mile
walk home from the bus stop. The family
barely got a taste of the wonderful marmalade
I’d proudly helped make at school.
I now have enough experience to usually turn
out jam and jelly I can give away without
apologies, but the continual bugaboo is
one or two of each batch always hasn’t sealed
completely during the processing time.
But I am not discouraged. I enjoy preserving
for our own use and to share with friends and
neighbors, a useful and pleasurable way to spend
leisure I’d otherwise fritter away.