Strawberry jam. Homemade.
When I was a kid, all the lady folk in my family canned during the summer. We put up fruits, veggies, and sauces that we could use all winter long. I still remember the huge bowls filled with diced cherries, tomatoes, beets, beans. I can still smell the cucumbers pickling in brine, and remember how all the aunties, cousins, and grandmas would gather to help in the kitchen.
We used the water bath canning method as often as we could, but sometimes the project required the big guns. That's when we'd drag out the ancient (and assumed to be bomb-dangerous) pressure cooker. I still have that stomach-clench reaction just thinking f it. We'd load the big pot full of glass jars, then all stand back while one brave soul manned the pressure cooker, watching the needle waver up and up. If she didn't hit it at just the right time to blow off the steam, we knew the whole thing would blast through the kitchen, the attic, and take the shingles off the roof, canned peaches and all. I am happy to say we never blew up the kitchen. That cooker, while of questionable safety, didn't let us down.
Over the years I haven't done as much canning, but this year I plan to put up some jams. I think the old pressure cooker is down in the basement gathering dust and evilness. While it might be fun to fire it up, I think I'm going to stick to the water bath method for now.
Oregon's strawberries are so sweet and juicy I've been told they don't export well because they can't hold up to the rigors of shipping. They may not ship well, but honey, they are heaven in a jam jar!
Hopefully, this week, they will be heaven in *my* jam jar.
Irene Goodman Literary Agency
27 W. 24th Street
Suite 700 B
New York, NY 10010