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Thursday, August 05, 2004

Anniversary Crab apple jelly 

On August 5, 2000, I married The Lovely One. It has been four great years. I don't want to wax rhapsodic about what being married to my lovely bride has meant to me; such thoughts are hard to express well (which is why romantic poets are so highly paid) and likely to bore or nauseate readers who are not me or TLO. So personal to The Lovely One: nee nee nee nee. You know what I mean.

In celebration of our fourth anniversary, I finished making the first batch of crab apple jelly last night. It's gorgeous and tasty. As well it should be; for me, the most amazing thing about jam and jelly is how much sugar is involved: the ingredients in the batch of jelly I made yesterday: 5 cups of crab apple juice, 2 tbsp of lemon juice, one pouch of pectin, and 7.5 cups of sugar. Diabetics need not apply.

The jam has this wonderful ruby-pink colour. It looks rosy red in the jars, but spread thin, it's pink. Tasted, it's sweet deliciousness, a nice sweet-and-sour-and-sweet apple taste. It was so good that if I wasn't already burning the candle at both ends, I would have baked up some scones to put the jelly on last night. As it was, I cleaned out the cooking pot with a spoon and tried some on a piece of toast. The jam worked!

For my next trick, I am going to try to get the preparation time down for the next batch (I still have a couple of gallons of crab apples to do...something...with, and there's lots more on Fr. Joseph's tree). The devil last time was in the cutting up of the apples in preparation. I am suspicious that this isn't that important with crab apples, which are already rather smaller than normal apples. Ideally, I'd like a big blade array that just did a quick-and-dirty dice on the apples before I toss them into the pot. Maybe that's just dreaming. Using a food processor was both inconsistent and rather violent. The juicer, quite reaonably, made the crab apples into juice (which caused an interesting inversion: I liked the sorta-sour juice, The Lovely One, who adores sour foods and especially crab apples, hated it). My next trick will be to try not processing the apples at all, except for a vigorous mashing once they've spent some time simmering. Since I later pile the apples into a cheesecloth jam bag anyways, I think it will work out just fine.

Making jam is wonderfully domestic work, of the sort that, like barbecuing or making your own bread, seems fun because we have the option of not doing it. Our houselet was built in the 1930s; I suspect that for the first 20-30 years of its existence, not gathering fruits and turning them into preserves would have been considered a foolish waste of food. Nowadays, I can get one or two dozen kinds of jam at the local supermarket, and considering how much I've invested so far in time and supplies, pretty cheaply at that. Of course, crab apple jelly from Fr. Joseph's tree isn't one of the things they have, and there's some strongly moral streak (must be some latent Protestant blood) in me that can't abide letting good fruit just fall to the ground and rot.

So, going to see La Dolce Vita tonight. Tomorrow night should be free, so my exciting Friday night will probably feature more jelly-making! Oh the wild life I lead. And I wouldn't trade it for another.

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