There used to be pear trees on my dad’s farms and once a year he would make pear marmalade. It was the only thing he ever made, at least he said he made it, but in reality I think he just helped my mother peel the pears. This was during the late seventies when I was either working or away at school so there was no witness to this momentous occasion but, as in his later years when he used to help vacuum the dog hair from the carpet and called himself a regular Molly Maid, I suspect it was a bit of an exaggeration. For a decade or so, my mother made peach jam, pear marmalade and three fruit marmalade. I remember taking jars of it to university in September and having it for breakfast in my residence room if I didn’t go down to the dining hall. I didn’t go home very often as it was too far, but one year when I had been in hospital with a kidney stone they brought me a fresh supply – it was like a taste of summer in February, and much better than the store-bought stuff. I don’t know the difference between jam and marmalade and preserves, but it was all boiled down on the stove.
I made it the old-fashioned way last year with two $4 baskets of pears and it was good, but having learned my lesson from the peach jamfest, I decided to stick to the freezer jam recipe from Certo Light – less work and still good flavour. Only it wasn’t good flavour. There wasn’t a recipe for pear jam on the package insert so I used the one for peaches. The pears were overripe, (I had gotten distracted by preparing for a fall tea party for the Group of Seven Art Ladies) so basically the whole mixture turned to mush. I added too much pectin, and not enough sugar, so it came out very gel-like. Basically, it was edible, but barely. I stuck in the freezer anyway, but it will probably end up being thrown out. I much preferred last years, but it was more time consuming. You can buy quite lovely jam at the farmer’s market for $5 a jar. The stand owner told me it is made from the juice and pectin, as they make it year round and you can’t get decent fresh fruit in the winter, but the taste is quite good. I buy the crabapple jelly, but there are all kinds of exotic flavours like gooseberry jam (we had an old gooseberry bush too, which would produce one or two berries a year), Saskatoon jam, red current jelly, plum jam etc. When I was at the museum craft sale last Sunday there were several tables selling homemade jams and jellies – hey let someone else do the work! I think that’s why my mother quit canning.
The lavender harvest is in…. sixteen small mesh (party store) bags. I placed them on the harvest tea table as party favours but they are quite lovely for lingerie drawers, or tucked under a pillow for sweet dreams.
Song of The Day: A Partridge in a Pear Tree – click here for music link – Bing Crosby and the Andrew Sisters
Sorry, but it’s the only song I could come up – may I be forgiven for reminding people that it’s only 3 months until Christmas.