Other than learning new knitting techniques (it's been 15 months since a homeschool mom blog reader of mine taught me to knit), the big thing I plan to learn this summer or fall is how to make jam.
Since my maternal grandmother passed away this last winter I have lost my main source of homemade jam. Into her 90s my grandmother continued to make jam and finally turned it over to her paid caregiver. Nanny would give directions and supervise from her rocking chair while her caregiver did the jam making. After telling her for years that I could buy jam from the store with my own money I finally got it and realized that it gave her pleasure to keep up the family tradition of supplying her family members with homemade preserves. Usually the fruits were wildcrafted from the neglected lots and forests around her home in Maine.
My mother makes some jams but in a sporadic way. I can't rely on her for a regular supply. Plus, my father favors raspberry jelly. If he were a child today he'd be diagnosed with Sensory Integration Disorder for all his quirks about food textures and the crazy demands he makes about what he eats. He claims he can't tolerate the seeds in raspberry jam. Really, who doesn't like raspberry jam, seeds and all?
I have an abundance of wild blackberries and some wild red raspberries as well as wild grapes all growing along the edges of my woods on my property. I figure why not make good use of these free fruits? Why not make jam?
My husband was after me to learn jam making. He came home one day after running errands to announce he had listened to Michael Colomeco's Food Talk on the radio and had heard an interview with Linda Ziedrich talking about her latest book on making sweet jams and jellies. He proclaimed we needed to buy the book.
Before I got around to buying it, a copy was offered to me through the Amazon Vine product review program I participate with. Score!
I've been reading through the book but am not finished quite yet. A big thing with this book that is different from other recipes is the jams and jellies are made without the use of pectin. I plan to review the book when done.
The wild blackberry harvest is terrible this year, thanks mostly to two female wild turkeys and their SEVEN babies. Yes I said SEVEN babies. They go through my yard daily and peck off all the berries they can reach. The harvest is next to nothing compared to years past. I'm freezing as many as I can get my hands on.
The wild grapes are just beginning to come in. I plucked about a dozen so far and see many more unripe fruits on the vine. I hope I can get to them before the birds do. Someone was just explaining that I should prune the vines severely in order to promote new growth since wild grapes grow on new wood. I think I'll do that this year. It will leave me also with an abundance of wild grape vine that could be used to make crafts or baskets with!