Saturday, May 30, 2009

Memories of activities past

I read a blog post earlier this week from Suburban Matron on the jelly wars at her house. The entry hit home, as we've serious PB&J requirements at our house.

For years, as in the first 14 years Mike and I were married, there was NEVER a jar of store-bought jelly in this house. The only exceptions might have been gift jellies, or a special flavor jelly that I picked up to curb a craving.

Years ago, I had exclusive picking rights to a friend's Concord grape vines. He didn't have much, but it was enough to make 24-36 pints of homemade jelly, depending on how well the vines set each season.

For years, I'd set aside three days for the picking, juicing, and jelly making. And by Sunday night, I'd have dozens of jars cooling. When the boys were little, that would last an entire year.

We also used to rent a house where we had plentiful plum trees on the property. Plum jelly is absolutely marvelous!

In addition, my mom would usually try to bring me fresh picked chokecherries from the family farm in North Dakota. If she couldn't get me the berries, they'd get them juiced and canned, and bring that so I could make the jelly later. Chokecherry jelly is such a favorite here, running low could easily spark a riot.

When I started school four years ago, my jelly making came to an abrupt halt. Ever since, my guys have had to live with the indignity of store jelly. And let me tell you, they weren't happy about it! The horror! I was even told by my eldest, that lack of homemade jelly could be considered child abuse. Like I said, PB&J is serious business around here.

Now that my schooling is complete, I think there's jelly in our future. I have gallons of chokecherries in the freezer from step-mom's tree (she transplanted a tree from MN and it's thriving). I have raspberries in the freezer, also from step-mom's garden. And I still have canned juice from a variety of sources, including the grapes. The juice actually works really well. If it sits for a year (or more), the solids settle which makes for a clearer final product.

I'm thinking, before the weather gets too hot, it's time to dig out the jars, the stockpots, and the water-bath canner and set aside a weekend for my own jelly wars.

My guys will fall in love with me all over again.

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