In a Jam

Jennifer FlatenThis post by Jennifer Flaten

Until I moved from my grandmother’s house to my mother’s house, I’d never eaten store bought jelly. Each summer my grandmother made homemade jelly from the raspberries and blackberries that grew wild along the road to her house.

I remember hot summer days spent digging in the thickets looking for the perfect berries. We would carry empty five-gallon ice cream pails and for every berry that we dropped in the bucket, we ate three. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

After we collected an ample supply of berries my grandmother would wash them and prep them for jelly, any leftovers from jelly making would be frozen for use at another time. Always thrifty my grandmother would freeze the berries in recycled quart milk containers. When we pulled the berries out for future as they were defrosting, I would always admire how beautiful they looked, like plump little jewels encased in a perfect square of ice.

One long sweaty afternoon my grandmother would labor to make those beautiful jars of jelly. She would always finish the jars with a seal of hot wax. I remember opening a jar of blackberry jelly in the middle of winter and using a knife to tease the perfect wax circle off the top of jar.

My grandmother did hot canning, a thing I’ve never mastered, I am a freezer jam gal myself and I prefer strawberry to any of the fruits with seeds. So, each spring I eagerly await the first email from the local strawberry farm letting me know I can come and pick.

The kids are wonderful berry pickers, maybe because they are so low to the ground, and it only takes us a few minutes to load a flat up with glorious fresh fruit. I always make sure to get enough to make a big batch of jam and have some left to make strawberry shortcake.

This year I was worried that we wouldn’t have a strawberry season because several severe rainstorms threatened to water log the fruit. Luckily, the rain passed and we were able to go out strawberry picking, all the while fending off monster-sized mosquitoes-that is how much we love fresh strawberries.

We collected enough fruit to make jam and strawberry shortcake with a few leftover for snacking.

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6 thoughts on “In a Jam

  1. Gosh Jennifer, you’re making me feel my age! This is such a wonderful post and reminds me of all the berry picking we did as kids. We spent many an afternoon seeking out the best blackberry patch or huckleberry patch and mom would make jam and pies. As a young wife I canned everything I could get my hands on. How I loved to hear the “pop” as the lids sealed. I used both the water bath and pressure canning method. I made my jams with the wax, too. I did make freezer jam much later and the kids loved the strawberry. Like you, I took my kids to the patch, we picked, made freezer jam and had strawberry shortcake! Thanks for the wonderful memories!


  2. Jennifer, I remember picking berries–blackberries mostly–along the road to our house when I was a kid too. My mom made blackberry jelly and jam. She didn’t use wax seals though, just the metal caps and rings. I’ve canned strawberry-rhubarb preserves a couple of times, and I enjoy doing it, but the strawberry freezer jam is really good. It keeps the taste of fresh strawberries.


  3. The second time I made freezer jam with raspberries, something went wrong. I poured it into jars to sit on the counter until time to put in the freezer, then we left for 3 hours to attend a company picnic. When we got home, some of the jars had exploded with raspberry jam all over the cupboard, curtains and window and kitchen ceiling. My daughter worked at a raspberry farm that summer and always brought the ripest home for free as they couldn’t be saved for selling. Whether that was the problem or what, I froze it anyway and it still tasted good through the long winter! But I make cooked jam now! You made my mouth water with your great post. Neva


  4. We also did a lot of canning and jam/jelly making at our farm, using paraffin wax to seal the tops of the jams. What memories this brought back. 🙂 I’m also more of a freezer jam girl myself but I did make homemade applesauce in the crockpot and canned it the traditional way this past fall. Great post.


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