Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Jam out

In college (and still now really) my best friends used to make fun of me because when I was ready to leave the bar or their house or whathaveyou, I'd say something like, "I'm going to jam out" or "let's jam out" or "Lin, are you ready to jam out?" - something like that.

Then they'd point at me and laugh and ask me where in the world did I get that saying, it's so retarded.

Ok, they never said retarded, that was another word that only I use(d) because I'm insensitive and crass and they are elementary school teachers with hearts of gold who never say anything with any disparaging connotations but whatever.

Regardless, even though I used the phrase "Jam out" all the time, I still have no idea where I got it. No one else in the whole wide world says this as far as I can tell and I certainly didn't get it from SportsCenter or MTV, the two televised centers of my then universe. So, who knows BUT MAYBE it was a harbinger of a future time (now, for instance) when I would be obsessed with creating JAM OUT of everything.

Do you think?

Anyway, that would at least be a good story for me to tell while trying to distract my neighbors and friends while I pick their fruit trees to the bone so I can run off and make jam without any compelling purpose like a pending rough winter or natural disaster where we plan to live entirely on jam.

So far I've been prefacing every jam making session (pickling, too) by telling Bubba/the kitchen/the dog/no one in particular that I'll be giving jam at the holidays and so all this jam making and heating up of our Oven House in the middle of summer is all for a good cause because isn't that just what's on everyone's wish list: a random jar of jam.

Sure, people act all Ooh this looks so good - I can't wait to try this but sometimes I get the feeling they're like what the hell am I going to do with this because if I wanted jam couldn't I just buy it at the store what a cheap ass.

Oh well, that's the only good reason I have for heating our house to a rolling boil in the grand warm months of July and August and so there you have it: I'm making future gifts. Well-received or not.

This time I made apricot jam, thanks to a very concise and no-BS recipe in my Ball Blue Book of Preserving which we now call Blue Balls for obvious reasons and thanks to many suggestions.

The fruit was courtesy of my friend/neighbor/coworker who has a prolific apricot tree that was/is producing apricots at an unprecedented rate and so, needed help rescuing her patio from the impending doom of one million fallen and then soon rotting apricots.

Sure, they could eat some of them, but you have to be careful how many because I don't think I have to tell you what happens when one eats too many apricots. Yes. Ew.

And, as with all jam/pie making endeavors, the true best joy is in the harvesting. I don't know why I love this so much.

Seriously, the practice of standing under a tree full of fruit or next to a hillside full of berries or a vegetable bed full of tomatoes and picking until my hands are stained and sticky and I'm sweaty from top to tail because obviously it's summer and 100 degrees whenever I decide to do this, is like the best thing in the whole wide world.

I must have a pioneer or a homesteader or, well, a greedy thief deep down in my person because I love to harvest like it IS. NOBODY'S. BIDNESS.

The problem is then what do I do with all of this harvested stuff. Oh - I make jam. Because jam takes a lot of stuff and, hey, here's a lot of stuff I just picked. Tah dah, mystery solved about the jam.

Although what I found this time, my first time making apricot anything really, is that hot apricots smell like barf and/or baby food, which is really not that appetizing. Nothing like making blackberry jam/pie which smells like heaven and perfection and hot gooey YUM.

Plus apricots have to be peeled prior to jamming and there's a pain in my ass if I ever saw one. Lord. I do not have any fingerprints left thanks to the complete scorching I gave myself peeling blanched apricots even though I had a towel between my tender fingers and that molten fruit. I don't learn.

Whatever. I like the outcome. I have about half a dozen pints of apricot jam to go with my two quarts of pickles (tasting soon!) and, if my neighbors will allow me (or if they go out of town, whoopsy! thief next door!) maybe some plum jam, blackberry jam and, who knows, lemon pickles will join the sideboard so that I can feel all at home and ready to face catastrophic fallout with my fort of jam.

And, by the way, when did my life become all about disasters and canned fruit?


  1. Am jealous of your free apricots.
    But in a few days, we will be absolutely overrun with blackberries, and then you can be jealous of those. And I'll be slaving in my kitchen making jelly, which is way more work than jam. Is there some kind of gene responsible for this insane desire to preserve and hoard?

  2. We won't be the ones starving in a disaster because we planned ahead and made jam.

    I'm starting to panic because my last batch is almost all given away, and how will we ever have jam in February at this rate?

    Must can more. I want to do apricot next, too.

  3. I just had to come back and leave a second comment. I just looked at a site trying to find a bargain on canning jars, and would you know... Canning Pantry also sells emergency kits. OMG

  4. Oh, man, my mom made apricot jam one year and it was so very delicious. Yours looks beautiful, which is promising, right? Yeah!

    And let me tell you: When we went blueberry picking last summer, everyone else was kind of strolling along, eating and picking ever so casually. I, however, was not playing. Something about it put the fire in my eye, and I wanted to harvest all I could carry! Not sure why, but I can assure you I'd be the same way no matter what we were picking. Not sure how this is going to help fill out the hurricane supplies.

  5. This morning I sampled the apricot jam that I made a few weeks ago and it was so yummy. Do you soak the apricots in ice water after blanching them? I stuck the apricots in boiling water for about a minute and then ice water for 2 minutes and didn't have any problems with hot fruit.

  6. When did you move to The Little House on the Prairie? Do you call Bubba "Pa" when nobody can hear you? Are you gonna hitch up the wagon and trade your wares for cloth and sacks of flour?

    Of course you know I'm being all bitchy because:
    a) I can't cook
    b) If I wasn't a bitch I'd have no personality at all
    c) I'm secretly jealous of your readiness for the apocalypse

  7. Hey, you can do your own jam of the month club. Give out 12 different kinds of jam or jelly or whatever and that takes care of Christmas gifties!

  8. I think that a lovely jar of jam is not at all a cheap-ass gift, but then again, I know what goes into it! :) It's those clueless folks who don't pay attention that are unable to get it. So only give your hard (hot) won jam to people who deserve it!
    It looks delicious, by the way. Me, I'm just trying to eat the snap peas as fast as they appear.

  9. OK, first of all, the weird phrase that my sister used to say is "shit ton" as in 'that's a shit ton of tomatoes' and I hated it so bad that I teased them mercilessly until they stopped using it.

    Secondly, I have never enjoyed the actual harvesting so much (I was doing it from a ladder), but I loved blanching and peeling the peaches when we made peach jam last year. Too bad you and I don't live closer so we could divide up the chores.

    Also, last year I gave out some really cute little jars of crabapple butter flavored with cardamom and got weird looks from everyone that received them. This year I'm saving it for myself 'cause it's much better than it sounds.

  10. Another parallel between your life in cali and mine in montana.

    I LOVE harvest. So satisfying and tangibly rewarding. I just put out a call on our local free cycle that I am willing to rescue any apricots, plums, peaches, cherries from people's trees in the next month.

    Made that same recipe last summer. So delicious.

  11. Your posts crack me up. Sounds delicious. Yum! ~D

  12. My mother is a jam-maker. Compared to her, your love for it is healthy and balanced.

    She was so obsessed at one point during my childhood, that when there was exceptionally bad weather where I grew up in Texas, and there were no peaches from any of the local orchards, she used it as a reason to go to Colorado. She left us kids with my grandmother during the first week at a new school, and took the car full of her canning supplies and hiking shoes, reserved a condo with a kitchen, and went away for two weeks when Colorado's peaches were ripe. She came back happy, relaxed, and with enough jam to get her through 'til the next summer. I just remember thinking that she was more concerned with having jam than she was about me starting a new school.

  13. Mmm. I don't know if I like jam, but that looks delicious. Oh! I thought about you yesterday when I got beets in my CSA box. I promptly gave them to my boyfriend's mom. I don't think I'm cooking them right, or something... I just can't get as excited about them as you do..

  14. How about apricot butter, that strange and delicious Pennsylvania delicacy that ACTUALLY HAS NO BUTTER IN IT.

    Alls you do is cook the shit out of it in a crock pot until it is think, dark and yummy. Yes it is also a spreadable thing but it is unique and therefore interesting.

  15. That looks amazing.
    How about these?

    I made jam for xmas gifts a couple of years ago. I was all proud of myself. I found some pectin at Whole Foods that I really liked


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