Following a hard freeze on Wednesday night, and another on Thursday, Friday dawned bright and cold, the perfect day for making jelly. I high-tailed it over to Dad's house with jars, apples, flats and lids and we began with Sand Plum, my favorite. One big pan of plums yields two batches of ruby red jelly and one of jam (this after much mashing of the Sand Plum seeds and pulp back and forth, back and forth against the colander.)
Dad and I have the canning dance down pretty well so it was gangs of fun all around. At one point near the end of the process, he disappeared around the corner toward the freezer and came back with a container marked on the lid, "5 cups of apricots ready for making jam" written in my mother's handwriting. Awww...
I headed to the store for more Sure-Jel and sugar while he washed the jars, pans and utensils in readiness for making the second round: apricot jam, which was always Danny's favorite kind of jam. There were only enough apricots for that one batch but it came out looking bright and cheery, the perfect thing to have on a hot toasted English Muffin on a cold winter morning.
By that time it was two o'clock and I had a back ache and realized that I had forgotten to eat breakfast and was ready for whatever the ice box could yield in the way of lunch. We visited about the two Anna Quindlen books we had both just read, about the mighty twist at the end of the one (One True Thing) and the amazing job she had done portraying the walk through the grief process in the other (Every Last One).
We had a few salty chips and a turkey sandwich, perused the Wall Street Journal a bit, touched on politics and baseball and sat out on the porch, enjoying the cool temperatures.
The two grocery sacks full of apples slumped at the feet of the pantry doors trying to get our attention. I refused to give them a second glance. Maybe Jelly and Jam were enough for one day, I thought. But Dad was not to be deterred so up we got, found the paring knives, washed the apples and sat down to peel them into the big yellow bowls, the peelings dropping into the bucket at our feet. We tossed the apple slices in lemon juice and Fruit Fresh as we went along and then set them to simmering on the stove as we searched through the spice cabinets for cinnamon and nutmeg. The pints of apples had to be water bathed, during which time Dad decided that he would like to make Apple Butter out of the Romes he had set aside.
Back I went to the store for more jars and lids.
Dad was busy working on the Butter while I was loading the kettle for the last water bath and all around us we could hear the lids on the jars of jelly and jam pinging different pitches as they cooled.
Here are the apples, not really apple sauce and not really just canned apples but something in between which will be amazingly delicious heated up with a sprinkle of cinnamon and sugar.
Thank goodness this happened. I had gone all summer without canning a single, solitary thing and now I feel like I have accomplished something worthwhile, even if I did have to buy the apples to make it happen. I love canning and the satisfaction that comes with growing, harvesting and 'putting up' your own food for the winter. The Sand Plums were picked the summer before last and kept frozen, waiting for today and the apricots have been waiting in the cold for ten years. Don't worry Ann, we saved two more bunches of apricots so you can make some jam too the next time you come down to visit.