It’s that time again.

Time to make the jam.

Fruit is in abundance and I certainly have the time.

So I started making jam again.

This needs a little explaining. You see I found an automatic jam maker for Bob for Christmas several years ago. I thought he would like it because he use to make jam and this would cut his work in half. It sat in the garage for months. One day I thought I should return it or try to sell it and then I thought, maybe I should try to make some! That’s where it all began because I really never ate jam before. I’ve only had apple jelly before and really liked it.

I had a booth at the Farmers Market last year, to sell the jam – that was going really well. Then my strokes happened and I had to stop for a while.

I had planned to go back this year, but I got a little spooked.

I started combining some flavors last year with a lot of luck. I’ve thought of some different combinations and this year I’ve combined some peppers from my garden. So far I’ve made Blueberry/Pepper; Strawberry Pepper; Pineapple Pepper plus the usual Strawberry; Raspberry and Blueberry. I’ve also combined Blueberry/Raspberry and Strawberry/ Kiwi Fruit and Blueberry/Kiwi Fruit. I’ll try some new combinations down the road and hopefully grow my list as more and more fruit becomes ripe. Our wonderful neighbors have peach and pear trees in their yard and they gave me some, so I’m guessing they will become jam in the future.

I tried to make a strawberry margarita jam last year that didn’t set well, so now we have syrup.

I’ll try to make some jellies too.

I have recipes for grape and apple jam I’ll have to try.

Growing up I never really liked jams and jellies. We were a maple syrup family. My sister ate peanut butter and jelly but I had bologna most of the time. This is a whole new production for me. I must say there is something exciting to make things like that.

I also started pickling too. I do like pickles…a lot, so it’s nice to make a supply of those too. I have two cucumber plants that have been doing well along with a dill plant that is thriving. The cucumber plants are producing more eating cucumbers than pickling ones. However, Bob has some pickling cucumbers at home that are doing great.

I remember how much my dad loved pickles. His sister made them and supplied him well, along with home grown tomatoes each year. Now my cousin Jeff is the big pickle maker in the family. Now, my mom is the pickle lover in my family and he supplies her with plenty. We trade pickles and jams each year, so we both win.

One of my fondest memories of growing up was going to a grocery store with my mom and being able to go to a large wooden barrel to get a huge dill pickle. They were so good. I think that is why I love them today. It’s exciting to be able to make pickles myself but they are not as good as I remember them. I’ll have to work on my recipe.

Bob is teaching me more canning things like veggies and fruit, but something I can’t get used to is mincemeat. There is something about it I don’t like. I think part of it is in the name. Anyway I stopped in a butcher shop in Omaha and had to pick up some suet for him. I had to leave the house when he made it. It was something I wouldn’t try although most people tell me it is not that disgusting. I grew up in a very different household, Mom never canned anything because my dad didn’t care for it. Mom grew up in New York and her dad had a huge garden so she grew up with those things. My grandma used everything from that garden and did a lot of canning. My dad’s dad had a deli so they had plenty of delicious meats and cheeses growing up…something my dad introduced to us.

My aunts on my dad’s side were terrific cooks and I am lucky to have sampled so many of their dishes. My Aunt Shirley was a wiz when it came to meats. My Aunt Ussey was great with canned goods and my Aunt Maxine makes the best baked goods. Sadly, Shirley and Ussey are gone but thankfully my Aunt Maxine is still alive. She and my Uncle Joe host a great Rosh Hashana break the fast each year that is amazing. She loads me up with blintzes each year and my cousin Teresa has taken over the feast. She is a chef professionally and it shows. As the younger generation takes over, I’m so happy the traditions have survived. To me that’s the best we can do. L’Chaiam!!

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