Monday, July 24, 2017
Grandma, it's not as easy as you made it look...
Today I made my first-ever batch of raspberry jelly. Yesterday I picked a lot of backyard raspberries, and though I usually freeze them for breakfast smoothies, I thought that people might want ice cream and raspberries for dessert at our family barbecue last night. But my mom brought a bee-eautiful rhubarb/apple/saskatoon berry crumble, and my raspberries were forgotten. In the middle of the night, I remembered the pail on the counter, and decided that today I'd have to try a batch of raspberry jam or jelly.
Realizing that my family would probably prefer not to have raspberry seeds stuck in their teeth at breakfast, I started researching how to make jelly online, and as I did, some dimly lit corner in the back of my mind flashed that I had inherited some cheesecloth for straining juices. When Ruby, my oldest-ever neighbour -- who lived in her home until she was ninety-seven and kept on for five years after that -- moved into seniors' housing, her niece passed me a lot of Ruby's canning jars and a few other things. So I went hunting in our cold storage room, and glory be! There was a whole forgotten collection of berry juicing equipment from Ruby in the far back corner!
#1 It's a good idea to reinforce the seams of ancient cheesecloth bags before using them.
#2 It's an even better idea to wear dark colours when making raspberry jelly.
Somewhere at the halfway point of the juicing process, as I was squeezing the raspberry pulp left in the cheesecloth bag, a seam gave way. Raspberry seeds and pulp sprayed across the room and my lovely flowered t-shirt. A passing stranger looking in our front window could have easily called 911 to report a mortally wounded woman standing over a berry press because it certainly seemed that way. My left side looked as though I was a victim from a chainsaw massacre.
Fortunately, no one looked in at that moment. I changed my clothes, scrubbed the floor and walls and fired up the sewing machine to reinforce the damp cheesecloth bag's seams, and the rest of the canning process was uneventful, thank heavens. The jelly set beautifully, and it tastes like summer. So if you're in the neighbourhood, drop by and we can have raspberry jam on toast anytime, at least for as long as it lasts.
Some days, I swear I can feel my Grandma laughing with me as I try out the things she used to do so effortlessly. And I suspect that just as she would chuckle with me over the big red blotches on my shirt and the floor, she'd also be pleased with this first attempt at raspberry jelly.