Rhubarb marks the beginning of the canning season.
It’s late, but I am nonetheless babysitting a giant black pot of simmering water. Within are jars filled with cooked and sugared rhubarb, fresh from the field behind my house and the last of my 2011 strawberries from the freezer.
This is what we home canners, we preservers, we local food lovers do. Against the wishes of our spouses, our bodies, ourselves. We do it because it is good and necessary. It brings its own rewards far better than the other tasks pressing upon us. On this night, I know that I should be writing at least one article, tracking expenses, or at the very least, sleeping.
But what can compare with a dozen pint jars of a garnet-colored preserve that I can spread on toast for my daughters, give as casual “thank you” gifts and stack on my shelves in a way that feels like gold bars? This canning is more of an accomplishment than anything else I’ve done sitting at my desk during the past month.
How great, then, it would feel to be Rebecca Staffel, owner of Deluxe Foods. She’s a full-time jam maker (and once Amazon cookbook editor and my first literary agent). I had the fabulous opportunity while in Seattle 10 days ago to sample some of her 28 jams. That’s crab apple with the spoon in it, and in the background her 2011 Good Food Award-winning Gingered Rhubarb.
I forgot how lovely and childlike it is to lick jam from a spoon.
Ah yes, rhubarb. I love it dearly, and it reminds me that from here on out until October, I will be spending many a late night–while my daughters sleep and others relax and play–standing by a stove. Waiting, tired and fulfilled.
Care to join me?
PS: Rebecca has promised to share what she knows about pectin, and I’ll post a Q&A in late June when I’ll be making strawberry jam.