Monday, March 21, 2011

Thoughts of Jelly (Resources Included)

Jellies and jams, it appears, were the delight of country homestead kitchens a hundred years ago. After all, what brown bread, hot biscuit, or simple dessert isn't improved with a dollop of glittering fruit? But today, jellies, jams and fruit spreads are missing from cabinets in many households. Too much sugar, we say. Too expensive when the cost of groceries we have to buy is skyrocketing.

As I continue to stock up on extras of things family members and I (do or will) need, I've been encouraged to consider jelly again. As I pour over old homesteading books and turn-of-the-century cookbooks, I'm reminded: jelly and jam is important. It's variety in an otherwise boring diet of breads and grains. It's a great calorie source. It's turning foraged or carelessly cultivated finds into substance for a family. Really, the more I read, and the more I make, the more I'm convinced:

Jelly is wonderful.

If you're one of the many who's contacted me for food storage tips, or if you're one of the many looking to preserve locally grown produce and get a handle on what's actually in your food, don't forget about jelly, jam, preserves, fruit spreads, and fruit butters. I echo the urging of farm wives and daughters from bygone eras.

Here are some resources I've found that, in my humble jam opinion, can't be beat. Want to learn to make your own jarred jewels? Start here. Looking for old favorites? They have you covered. Looking for something cool and exotic? Done. Whether you're stocking up, eating creatively, or looking to broaden your culinary horizon, I'd start here. (There are superb gift ideas here, too!) It's great to have paper copies of these on hand in case internet access becomes... troublesome, but you can certainly buy electronic copies or borrow them from folks or libraries, too:

There. I promise you won't be disappointed.

I'd like to share recipes and tips this summer as jelly and jam season gets underway, but I thought now may be a good time to start considering things and throwing some thoughts toward getting prepared.

Getting prepared. My new middle names. :) Happy jamming. -Brin


Becky K. said...

I tried my hand at strawberry freezer jam thinking I couldn't possibly mess it up. Well, I was wrong. However, a very good thing came from it....strawberry ice cream topping. Yum!!!! I now have a whole batch in the freezer ready to be pulled out on a whim.

Old Centennial Farmhouse said...

I am a jam believer from wayyy back! It's one of the most fun things to can, in my opinion, because the fruit smells absolutely heavenly!

PS: I am enjoying your series on preparedness...I think all serious American's are hopping on that train...

Anonymous said...

What are we supposed to be preparing for?


First I just wanted to let you know I am very proud of you for opening up the subject of preparation in such a friendly way. So many times people hear about preparing and jump right to apocolypse fearing Survivalists in full camo stockpiling arms. So Thank You from one prepping family to another.

Lastly, this year I was a bit sneaky with my family and didn't make all the jam right away. If I go and make it all in the summer, by March we don't have any jam left due to overzealous binging. So instead of trying to hide it, I took quart jars and filled them with the slightly soft/heated fruit and syrup. Then, at the end of February, I took those quarts and cooked them down into pints jam by dumping all the softened fruit into my jam pot. Now we will have enough to make it to the summer fruit season again!

But again, thanks for making a rather tough subject for many so accessible to all.

Unknown said...

I used to make jams and jellies every year when all the kids lived at home, now that's it's just us, sugar is so high and the house we bought came with a glass top stove and I'm too chicken to can on it! lol Freezer jams are a good way to go too!

Laura said...

I made concord grape jelly for the first time last fall. The place we rent has an enormous grape vine in the back. It was so much fun to do the whole thing from scratch. I gave several jars away as gifts. Now I can't wait for this year's grapes!

Anonymous said...

Dear Brin,

somehow, I'd lost the link to your blog...maybe when bloglines switched over. Anyway, so happy to have found you again. I've been reading through the posts I missed. So happy (as Granola Girl said) to see you handling the subject of preparedness in such a friendly way. I'v been thinking about this myself, along with many others it seems, for some time now. You don't have to have visions of an "apocalypse" of some sort, to believe in being prepared. The reasons to be prepared are many, losing your job, illness in the family, world ecomomy crashing, just to name a few.
Thank you for your posts on this. Please keep them coming.
I am a devoted follower :)

Brin said...


Fair question, so here goes:

Living with nothing "in store"... with no more than a days worth of food, water, medicine, etc., is something new. Our great/grandparents, for the most part, didn't live this way. They had food canned. They had access to water that wasn't dependant on utilities. They gardened, or knew someone who did. Running to the store several times a week is something recent, and can be a drain on time, gas and money.

We're preparing for things that happen to everyone at some point: power outages (brown/black outs) and utility service interrupted. It happens frequently here due to tree limbs falling, water mains busting, etc. Having something quick to eat- and water to drink, flush, and brush teeth is awesome. No running to the store and standing in line at WalMart. :)

We're preparing in case of another storm that means we can't get out for a few days. Having alternate light and heat sources, cooking methods and supplies means storms are easier to cope with, instead of being cold, hungry, and in the dark.

I live not too far from the Gulf of Mexico. Everytime there's a hurricane, folks end up here. It's comforting to know I have extra food, toiletries, blankets, etc., when family and friends show up with little on hand and need to stay... sometimes for days/weeks.

People are preparing in case of layoffs or job loss, or an illness or situation that prevents us from working. I know firsthand, and have heard from MANY OTHERS, who have been able to fall back on things put back for rainy days... because the rain came. Because I buy extras of things when I can and when they're available, I have enough to see me through a financially challenging time... and help others who are going through theirs, too.

Many people (, prep because they see writing on the wall: the world is changing. Times are changing. The economy is changing. And we've seen that the government and others folks have relied on for help can't meet our needs... especially in times of crisis.

There are those who prepare because they think the world's coming to an end. 2012 and hype like that. Do I? Hardly. Do I believe we're in for tough times ahead? Yes. Does my faith... and belief in God and His Word, the Bible... tell Christians that a period of trouble is coming upon the earth? Yes, it does. But we're also told not to be afraid, not to worry, because God LOVES US, is WITH US, and is FOR US, along with all who call on His name. A verse I like is Psalms 3:3, "You, O Lord, are my Helper, my glory and the lifter of my head." The entire world could go up in flames, but I have something to hope in. I have a Helper. And I'm not special. He can, and wants to be, your Helper, too.

I prepare because I want to be someone who aids... not NEEDS aid... in times of inconvenience, lack, or trouble. It's important to me to know that I'm doing what I can to make sure my family and close friends have food, water, medicine, sanitary and hygiene items, and comforting things in case they need them. In case they lose things to fire, storm, or job loss. But if a flood hits me tomorrow... if a tornado blows all my stuff away tonight, it doesn't change the reality that God is my supplier, my helper, and my ever-present help in time of trouble. (Psalm 46:1).

And as a final note, I really like preparing for days like today: I'm stuck at home waiting on the internet installation guy. If I didn't have serious chocolate and Kotex stored up, I'd be in trouble. :)

So that's why I prepare. But ask every prepper and they'll give you a different take on the world and their situations.

Have a great day, okay?

Patricia said...

I love to make jam, too. Strawberry-rhubarb is my favorite. But like Becky K., I've made a few ice cream toppings in my day by mistake. The good news is ... it's delicious and never goes to waste. It's also good warmed up and served over waffles :o)

Chanda said...

I've turned into a bit of a "prepper" myself this year. I have always canned and harvested as mush as I can form my garden and such, but know I find myself drawn to storing up other necessities. I won't argue with my instinct, I've learned to just run with it. Todays troubles in this world should makes us all stop and think about preparing for harder times ahead. Do you ever listen to blog talk radio network on the Internet? They have a good selection of prepper shows on there. My favorite is kendra from New Life On A Homestead Show. She has a blog also. Her show and several great have been great for me to learn from.
Good luck and have fun with the jam making.

Anonymous said...

I really like your comment - thanks so much for sharing it. I'm thinking a lot about preparedness lately, though I'm kind of new to it all (beyond a full pantry cupboard) This year I'm going to try jam-making and canning fruit for the first time. I recently learnt how to make soap, and I'm stockpiling old towels and linnens so that I have plenty to offer anyone that comes to stay.
I am loving your current series and would really enjoy anything more you have to add, so please do feel free to share it, and know that you are encouraging and inspiring people like me to kick my minimal/basic-prepping up a notch ;)
Also, I was re-reading a few of your old posts your blog. It's just ace.
God bless,
r xxx

Cindy Brick said...

'Pore,' honey -- 'pore!'
I love your blog -- only wish you would write more often. Please fill us in on how you are decorating your new home. Would love to hear more about that. (The recipes are great, too, when you provide them. And I enjoyed the canning post, too. I just like it when you talk about home dec.)
I come from a long line of pioneer women who all did their own canning. I don't much because The Mama does it for us. But that doesn't mean my family doesn't enjoy it!
Canning tomatoes is a regular part of the summer, though...
Thank you for sharing yourself with us.