The One With The Jam Plan

I get Carole King’s “I Feel the Earth Move” stuck in my head a lot. I think it has something to do with the rhythm of my dishwasher’s rinse cycle. Anyway, I hate that song with a burning passion. Would you like to know why? OK, I’ll tell you!

Aside from the banality of the whole damn thing, it’s because I don’t believe her. Or, more accurately, I don’t relate. I simply do not see how a mellow as the month of May face and tenderly call[ing] my name could make me lose control down to my very soul and get hot and cold alloverallover and be all, like, I JUST GOT TO HAVE YOU BABY. Since when are mellow and tender arousing demeanors? Am I hung over? ‘Cause if I’m not hung over, I don’t have much use for mellow and tender.

Also because when I was growing up there was a lot of Carole King’s Tapestry in my house alongside a lot of Carly Simon’s Coming Around Again and so I tend to compare the two even though they came out a decade apart and aren’t very similar in style so it’s really not fair, and also one is, if you ask me, way the fuck better than the other even though I’m not sure you’re allowed to say bad things about Tapestry. So, when I think “I Feel the Earth Move” I also think “All I Want is You” and, I gotta tell ya, in a competition between “when you look at me and you tenderly call my name” and “all I want is you and your Mack-truck lovin’ jumpin’ me, Jack, oh, Jack,” I don’t see any question as to which one of those wins.

(That story has nothing to do with the rest of this post.)

I made jam!

It went like this:

First I got my supplies together.


Then I got the boiling water canner, the lids, and the jars on the stove to simmer. I also put on a pan of water to boil in case I needed to top up the canner. Then I realized I didn’t have a burner left to cook the strawberries, so I got rid of the plain-water one. Nothing I had read had prepared me for not having enough burners (who has 5, anyway?) and this was where I started to get nervous-confused.


Then I trimmed 2 quarts of strawberries and measured out all my other ingredients (I was short on sugar and the nervous-confused feeling continued). And I cooked the strawberries just like the book said but oh golly I was getting tired of being in the kitchen literally watching pots to see when they boiled. (I’m much more a watch-TV-while-the-food-cooks type.)


Then I got a little, “Are you kidding me with how long this is taking?” and this is my face when I’ve been doing something longer than I wanted to but can’t stop without consequences.


When it was finally time to fill the jars, (1) I used the jar lifter the wrong way around, (2) I used the bubble remover the wrong way around, and (3) I started to think maybe this wasn’t the most soothing project for someone who watches as many detective series as I do.


But I got the jars filled and cleaned and capped and 7 half-pints went into the canner. The last half-cup of jam went into the fridge. I was afraid to get my phone too close to the steamy, boily pan with all the glass jars balanced on a thin wire shelf above it, so you get a picture of after I’d put the lid back on and felt safe again.


And then there was jam.


The stuff in the fridge tastes pretty great. All my seals look good. I have been assured by a knowledgable friend that being short on sugar (I used homemade strawberry syrup to make up the difference) and confused regarding foam and bubbles are not indications that my jam will kill me. Here’s hoping. I have 3 or 4 more canning projects I’d like to try this year before I decide whether this is for me or not. It’s an awful lot of work and very nervous-confused making. Maybe I just need practice.

I’ll keep you posted.

8 thoughts on “The One With The Jam Plan

  1. The first time is always crazy (at least it was for me), but I think that the next time you decide to try it will go much more smoothy. Do you think that you will can strawberry jam again or try something new?

    1. I still want to try raspberry jam, some sort of apricot preserve, pickles, and tomato sauce. I think that’ll give me a good variety of stuff in the cabinets and also a good idea of how likely I think I am to continue this pursuit. Glad to know it’s tricky at first for everyone, though!

  2. This is the kind of “nervous-confused” situation I would find myself in! Generally my rule of thumb is everything should still be edible even though I didn’t really plan correctly or things didn’t quite turn out how I thought. (Maybe a little more concerning with canning, but you know.)

    1. I deviate from the cooking plan quite often and I agree that as long as it’s edible, it’s good and, if nothing else, a learning experience. It is a little scarier with jam, though, you’re right. One of the rare cases where deviation or mistakes could be very very bad for you.

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