Jamming with Fruit
My friend, Karen Glines, might be considered a “preservationist.” I’m not sure that’s what you call someone who makes jellies, jams and preserves, but it could be. Whatever the term, it doesn’t begin to describe Karen’s many talents, but it’s certainly one of her sweetest.
She was inspired a few decades ago by a recipe for nectarine-plum jam that she found in a 1997 issue of the St. Louis Suburban Journal .
Jelly, Jam, Preserves—What the Diff?
It’s worth noting that there’s a difference between jelly (smooth) and jam (fruit pieces included), and preserves (even fruitier). All of those work spread nicely on a peanut butter sandwich, biscuit or toast.
Karen makes a Christmas preserve that combines plums and peaches—her favorite. This year she made just blueberry and strawberry preserves. The strawberries she got from a farm, but the blueberries came to her kitchen by way of Instacart. Whatever the variety, she adds pectin—Sure Jell—the stuff that transitions the fruit into a sweet spread.
Techniques Vary Over Time
Karen first assembles all her preserving tools: jars, lids, funnel, and tongs. A special tong is used for removing the glass containers from their water bath. (Yes, that’s what you call the process of heating the sealed jars in a rack-lined pot at 212 degrees).
Cooks of yesteryear by-passed the safer water bath. They simply added a layer of melted paraffin wax to the filled jars before adjusting the lid. My mother always did that. It’s been decades since I struggled to break into a new jar of jelly by removing the protective wax seal. If over time a little mold formed on top the jelly, no problem. You simply removed it and continued smoothing jelly on to your biscuit. Waste not, want not was once a way of life.