Friday, January 18, 2013

52 Steps to Yesteryear - Week 3, Jam Making

I'm away with my Beloved on a quick trip to Sydney this week, So I'll be reposting something I wrote a while ago about a favourite summer joy - jam making.

Late 19th century jam pan - Ratty and Moles Riverbank Antiques, Warrandyte

Crabapple House is a big home on a tiny block of land. Somehow, we've managed to squeeze in as many fruit bearing trees, as well as a raspberry patch and a veggie garden. All to satisfy my longing to live on a farm. (Still don't have that goat though.)

What I do have is the bounty of summer, all lined up like soldiers in my hallway cupboard. My personal treasure trove of home-made goodies, preserved to last all year long. 

And my favourite is apricot jam. Each summer we fight the rosellas for fruit and this year is no different. Thankfully, it's a win-win. They come to pick the trees clean - we hear and run out to frighten them away. To mock us, they peck as much fruit as they can before flying away - and we snatch it back to cover the kitchen table. 

Before and After - Summer at Crabapple House

In the Victorian era, when apricots were no longer in season, carrots were substituted as a fair imitation. I don't think I'll ever go that far. I'll stick to my summer tradition of real apricots for apricot jam. Luscious and sweet, I love to see my ripe fruit, some sun-bleminshed, others casualties of bird attack, saved and turned into something with a purpose. 

And here's what I've learned from summer jam making. 

1. Real apricot jam requires a mercy mission. If we don't rescue the fruit, it's destined to rot where it sits. The birds take chunks but then move on to pick elsewhere. But add some sugar and fire and what once shriveled with limitations, now lives again. Sound familiar? I know what it means to be rotten and ready to wither. But as a child of God, I've been transformed for an eternal future. And while I'm not a fan of fiery trials, I know without them, I'd still be a rotten mess. 

2. Real apricot jam requires sacrifice. It takes time to bubble away, during a full day of stirring, an upturned kitchen and in my case, a burn or two. The process of transformation is costly to me. But I'm prepared to go through it because I value my fruit and have a plan for it. And I'm comforted to know God does not give up on the mission of redeeming us. More than anyone He's acquainted with the suffering which comes from being the Redeemer. 

3. Real apricot jam requires a purpose. My jam is useless in the jar. While I love to look at my bottles of fruity promise, they're only sitting pretty on the shelf. Dusting their lids is no comparison to popping open a jar and slathering a batch of scones with fresh jam. Some breaking is required when others are to be blessed by my work. A disturbance of my neatly ordered shelf. The emptying of bottles I filled to the brim. 

How about you? Do you, or someone you know, make jam or jellies or sauces? I have two favourites - apricot and plum. What's yours? 

This time next week, I should be back to my everyday routine. And ready to share the next in my 52 Steps to Yesteryear. Inspired by what I know needs doing at home, my prompt is - homemade furniture polish. Yes, you read that right. You'll see why next week...