Jammin’: An Amateur’s Guide to Making Fruit Preserves

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Michelle Togut

Michelle Togut resides in North Carolina with her husband and pets. She has worked as an adjunct professor of history, contributor and writer, and small-firm attorney, among other things. These days, she's trying to sell real estate. For fun, she reads political blogs of all persuasions, practices yoga, drinks wine, hikes, reads, and volunteers for a local animal rescue.

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7 Responses

  1. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    This is really awesome timing, Michelle.

    I’ve just started making small batches of various jams to go with meals, like a ginger-orange-rhubard one I made for a desert. They’ve been turning out really well, and I was just wondering what it would take to go from half-cup quantities to “for the winter” quantities.Report

  2. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    What happened with the cherries? We just picked a whole bunch and have been just plain eating them, so there isn’t enough left to make this worthwhile, but next year we might very well try to do this. Was it just that there were a lot of pits?Report

    • Avatar Michelle says:

      The Russian was charged with removing the pits and, although he made a valiant effort, sheer numbers overcame him. Even the four-ounce jars contain several pits. Plus, it’s more the consistency of syrup than preserves. Works great over ice-cream if you don’t mind watching out for stray pits. We probably should have followed a recipe instead of winging it.Report

  3. Avatar Damon says:

    God I remember this when I lived in Washington too.

    We canned everything. Back before all the farmland was turned into vineyards, we’d go to the orchards and pick: peaches, apricots, cherries (bought them)

    Our neighbor had a plum tree. We picked the hell out of that an canned it. We picked huckleberries wild off the mountains and froze them. We grew strawberries and picked wild black berries.

    We canned venison, smoked shad and then canned it. My dad even went to Portland or the Coast and bought small albacore tunas flash frozen off the boat and we canned those.

    Jesus I’ve never ate so well in my life. I was still eating canned goods from the 80s a decade late in college. BTW, canned venison mades great chilli.

    Thanks for the memories Michelle.Report

  4. Avatar zic says:

    The Russian, being Russian, felt compelled to pickle cucumbers and a variety of peppers, as well as a whole batch of mushrooms he found alongside the road near our health club (word to the wise: don’t try this unless you know for sure the mushrooms you’re gathering aren’t poisonous).

    Please, make sure The Russian knows that species that look like the safe edibles he knows in Russia may not be the same species here. I’ve a friend who consults with several northeastern hospitals on mushroom poisoning, and he says that one of the most common reasons is immigrants, picking what they think is safe because it’s safe at home. (The other is toddlers eating LBMs in the back yard.)

    That said, forage for mushrooms. If you want to get started, Chanterelle Dreams, Amanita Nightmares by Greg Marley is a great way to start. (And this is the person who told me about the common problem of mushroom poisoning immigrants have from confusing safe-at-home with not-safe-here mushrooms.) This book is a wonderful read. And it has some great recipes in it.

    Foraging season is just beginning here in ME. Fiddle heads are gone by, ramps going by. Time for the wild strawberries next. They’re so tiny that I’ll only get four or so half-pints of jelly. But it’s worth it. I have wild grapes in my yard, and from the looks of the blossoming, we’ll have a bumper crop. I also have a lot of wild rose, and am thinking of making rose-hip jam.Report

    • Avatar Michelle says:

      The Russian won’t pick up a mushroom unless he knows exactly what it is. There are a lot of mushrooms here in NC that look familiar to the ones he grew up with but not quite the same. We’re going to need to get some kind of guide before we try harvesting them.

      Wild strawberry jelly sounds amazing. Ditto grape, which is something we’ve never tried.Report

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