Jam-making eve. The raspberries were so-so, but the blacks are having a banner year. The warm dry summer has yielded up large sweet sun-kissed berries. The urban farmer’s co-habitator keeps picking and the urban farmer keeps jamming them into the freezer. But now the freezer is jam-full. The urban farmer can scarcely squeeze in a pint of ice cream let alone a container of split pea soup.
It’s time to do something. The urban farmer’s decided. It’s time to make jam.
8:00 a.m. The counter is heavy with thawing berries.
The urban farmer assesses jars for suitability. Problematic ones are culled; appropriate ones chosen. The collection amasses.
8:15 a.m. Lid check. Are they dented, do the rubber seals seem intact? What about rust?
8:20 a.m. Jars. There don’t seem to be enough. The urban farmer starts to sweat. What if there aren’t enough? Take a deep breath, urban farmer.
Time to re-deploy. Time for an executive order: The urban farmer calls all decommissioned jars currently working as holders of nuts and seeds back into jam duty.
8:50 a.m. Mental, physical, and emotional preparations. The urban farmer steels herself. She envisions herself cranking the Norpro, measuring sugar, adding margarine to limit foaming. She will orchestrate a one-worker ballet of stirring the simmering berries, ladling, pouring hat jam faultlessly into the waiting, pre-sterilized jars, expertly inverting.
9:00 a.m. More doubts. Will the urban farmer keep her calm when the jars don’t seal, when she runs out of sugar?
Another deep breath. More steeling. Shake off your reluctance, urban farmer. You can do this. You have the Norpro to sieve the seeds.
9:10 a.m. Centering on the jam. Envisioning herself as jam warrior.
Be not afraid. Be one with the jam. Stay loose. Remember to breathe. It’s about the crank. It’s about the stir. It’s about sailing through the jam wall. You will not experience jam fatigue. Persevere and preserve!
9:30 a.m. Berry check. Still frozen. The urban farmer has been fooled into cranking frozen rock-hard berries through the Norpro before. This time she will use her hard-won jam-making wisdom. She will not crank until after berries reach thaw.
9:32 a.m. The washing of the jars. The urban farmer will not be daunted by the enormity of her task. She will bask in the cleanliness of her kitchen and counters.
9:40 a.m. Separating jars into re-wash and use “as-is” groupings.
9:50 a.m. Clothing check. The urban farmer is apron and glove ready. Freshly washed dish cloths are at her disposal to whisk away spills.
10:45 a.m. The urban farmer pedals out for provisions. She will buy the right amount of sugar and jar lids before she gets to the stirring stage and before she gets to the boiling point.
12:30 p.m. Provisions procured. The urban farmer hauls in 20 # s sugar, also one pack lids, regular, and one pack lids and screw tops, wide-mouthed.
12:40 p.m. Final inspection of the jam-staging area.
12:45 p.m. Final jam jar quality control. Final jar smell test. Time to don the apron and scissor open the Sure-jell. No turning back now. The berries have thawed.
2:00 p.m. Lining up the jars, filling to within 1/8 inch, cleaning the jar tops before screwing on the lid. Not mis-measuring the sugar. Stirring.
3:00 p.m. Breathing deep, staying loose, reveling in each batch. Sticking to the plan.
Staying undaunted by the mountain of berries still awaiting processing.
4:45 p.m. The urban farmer’s stirring arm is sore. Her back aches. Her nose is numb to the berries’ fragrance. The dining table is covered with glasses of ruby and deep purple jam jewels. Four batches of Sure-jell perfect jam.