As predicted, we woke to -15 degrees on Saturday, and a windchill even colder. When I stepped outside and inhaled, my lungs hurt, so I retreated to the kitchen to make jam.
Tim hauled quarts of strawberries, rhubarb and raspberries up from the basement freezer. These were fruits we’d harvested in the heat of last summer, the strawberries from a nearby farm and the rhubarb and raspberries from our own land.
Each jam has only three ingredients: rhubarb, strawberries and sugar for one, and raspberries, sugar and lemon juice for the other. Heat is the alchemy that turns the mixture into jam. Between stirring the pot and heating water in the canning kettle, the kitchen turned steamy and warm with the fruity fragrance of summer. As we filled jars, jam dripped onto the counter, blessing the kitchen with a stickiness similar to a humid summer day.
We filled thirty jars with ruby-colored jam—summer distilled to its essence, gifts from the garden, a reminder of the growing season past and the one soon to come. In fact, the cold weather wasn’t just an excuse to stay indoors and make jam on a cold, winter day. It’s also a necessary winter task: we have to empty the chest freezer to make room for next summer’s harvest.