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.
Martina Tyrrell says
Deborah, as you’re making those beautiful red jams, I am making the most of the glut of citrus fruit we have here in southwest Spain at this time of year. Like you, with nothing but the simplest ingredients and the alchemy of heat, I’ve made my year’s supply of Seville orange marmalade and, because it doesn’t have a long shelf life, smaller batches of lemon curd. This weekend, I’m going to try my hand at lime pickle. Meanwhile, every morning, we drink the sweetest freshly squeezed orange juice from the wicker basket of oranges that never seems to empty. Much of the joy of using up this great variety of citrus fruits is picking them. I walk long distances along the dirt tracks over the hills to friends’ properties, where I fill my backpack from orange groves that contain Seville, naval and mandarin oranges, and lemon trees too. The limes and grapefruits are a little harder to find, but I have my sources. Getting my Vitamin C and my Vitamin D in one go!! I’m blessed to live here.
Deborah Lee Luskin says
Hi Martina, Your description of the walk, the harvest and the marmalade make me long for sunshine and heat as an antidote for the 40-degree F. weather and rain that followed last Saturday’s cold snap. But really, I miss winter: the deep, silent winter of sunshine bouncing off bright snow and a bluebird sky.