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

ripening fruit.

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

at school.

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

following day.

Then the cooled stew of guavas was put into

a cotton sack and hung so the juices could

drip out.

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.



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