Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Jammin' with Marilyn

Any LRA choir kid will tell you that Marilyn Crooker knows her way around the kitchen.  I often wonder if seniors are in choir solely for the zucchini bread that is bestowed upon them for their 18th birthday.  (Kidding)  But it's not just zucchini bread.  She'll make apple cake, pie, angel food cake, etc. etc.  In addition to baking these scrumptious goodies, and hauling mattresses onto roofs, Marilyn makes multiple flavors of jam.  From scratch.  With berries she picks herself.  Since I live so close to her this summer, I was invited to join the fun.

Strawberry picking is best done in the morning, before the heat and humidity beat you down.  So we were off, bright and early to start our day.  

Have you ever picked strawberries?  It's not like picking apples, which grow above your head.  No, strawberries grow inches off the ground.  It requires squatting, bending, and reaching.  It is not for sissies.  

In just over an hour, we had four buckets brimming with berries.  (We might have eaten a few along the way, too)  The buckets were heavy, too.  They weighed in at just over 24 pounds.  That's a lot of strawberries, folks.  It looks even more impressive when you spread them out on the dining room table.  Aren't they beautiful?  

Now it's time to make the jam!

Find a ginormous colander to rinse them, then hull each and every damn one.  It'll take as long as picking them did.  But be patient, hull with a buddy, and time will pass quicker.

Once you've hulled a lot of berries, you'll need to mash them.  They were so ripe, I barely had to mash.  They were, no joke, the most delicious berries I have ever had.  That's probably because I earned them...  bending to pick all the berries is hard work!  But even so, scrumptious.  

Mixing the sugar, pectin, and water is the key step in creating a non-runny, slightly set jam.  It's an art form.  I was evidently a quick learner because my jam was a lovely texture.

Oh, who are we kidding.  I am such a novice.  It was good because I had a fantastic teacher.

She is such a pro, she has multiple sized funnels in order to neatly pour the jam into the jars.  She also has multiple shaped ladles.  Did you know there is more than one kind of ladle?  Me neither.

Here we are with the finished product.  We each made a batch, and had lots of beautiful jars of jam lined up on the counter.  I am proud to report that I successfully made a batch of jam, filled 8 jars, and will be enjoying homemade, delicious jam for the next several months.  Aren't you jealous?


Jill said...

We made LOTS of jam in our time at the B Homestead (plus we canned many jars of beans, tomatoes, kraut, etc. - just ask your dad!), so I'm not at all jealous. I suspect, however, that you got to cook it all up in AC comfort, so I would be jealous of that!

Jules said...

Not surprised that Grandma canned all summer! Actually no a/c for us either. We were in a cottage on Cayuga lake, though, so the view made up for it

Jill said...

Excellent - the hotter the kitchen, the better the jam! Sounds like a lovely place.

Anonymous said...

So good to see Mom Crooker making her delicious recipes! Any chance you could persuade her to post her Zucchini bread recipe?

-Sara Schaefer Jones, LRA 1999-