Thursday, June 02, 2005

No more CERTO bottles

DearREADERS,
You can tell ol' Myrt here really IS getting older. Today we decided to make some homemade jam and pies from the bushel and a half of the early peaches that Johnny & Barbara brought back from Cordell, Georgia. So I bopped on down to my local "Wally-World" to get the pectin and discovered several things:

  • I am glad we have a garage attic full of mason jars since they aren't $1.25 a dozen anymore. They're more like $7.42 for the box.
  • They do have new water bath canners, but no wire holders to raise and lower the jars into the hot water, and keep them separate during the boiling stage. Glad I could find a good one at K-Mart from the Martha Stewart Collection.
  • Martha Stewart did NOT provide any sort of jar lifter to remove the finished product one jar at a time from the boiling water bath to the towels set to the far side of the counter. I had to go to Crowder Brothers, the "old-fashioned, they-have-everything" specialty hardware store. I couldn't find one like my old wooden handled one, which is packed away somewhere. Had to settle for a modern heat-resistant plastic-coated steel one.

BUT PERHAPS MY BIGGEST JOLT CAME WHEN I DISCOVERED THAT:

  • CERTO isn't in bottles anymore. You have to use these handy cut-off-the-top pouches. Remember those old little brown bottles? Remember how you'd look for the 1/2 empty mark when doing up a batch of jam? Now:

    1 pouch = 1/2 bottle of Certo

But while some things have changed drastically, there are still the old delights:

  • Taking a bite of that irresistibly sweet peach you're chopping up for the jam.
  • Carefully stirring the jam mixture until it boils a good solid minute.
  • Keeping the rings and lids in scalding hot water on a back burner of the stove.
  • Pulling each of the now sterilized jars from the boiling water bath and putting them on the towel covered wood cutting board.
  • Ladling the hot jam through large funnel to keep the sticky stuff from the top of each jar.
  • Retrieving a lid and a ring from the pot on the back burner, and giving them a firm twist on each jar.
  • Sometimes the heat of the jam comes through the terry towel you are using to grip the jar as you twist, particularly as the time wears on and the towel gets a little wet.
  • Using the jar tongs to lift each back into the water bath canner to go through another 5 minutes (we're at sea level) of boiling.
  • Running the fan hoping the breeze will cool you down.
  • Moving the jars out on the counter to cool.
  • Listening for the pop of each top, an indication that the seal is set.

My REAL Grandma Myrtle made my favorite apricot "PRESERVES." She took offense if you called it jam. In Washington state we had apples in the fall; peaches, apricots and pears in the summer. We'd buy by the bushel-full from "east of the mountains." The raspberries and blackberries grew wild. Oh what wonderful "preserves" they would make!

And have you ever had a blackberry pie a la mode? Simply heaven.

During the 1970s, when I was doing the "Back to Eden" thing, I made bread from scratch, and canned and froze all of these sorts of things available from the local farm stand. Gosh, my grandkids don't even KNOW what a farm stand is. Those trendy "farmers' markets" are the closest they've been to one yet.

When I was very little, my dad would be working on the boat. I'd make mud pies right beside him, something the child development specialists now call "parallel play." But then, it was just hanging out near dad. Anyway, my ol' "father-dad" would ask me to make him a "FRESH PEACH POT PIE." First you need a fresh pot... and a fresh knife... and fresh peaches. The emphasis was on "FRESH," though at 3 years of age I'm sure I couldn't tell you what "FRESH" meant. And I'd have to use the intercom between the boat house and the house to ask mom to tell the correct temperature for "baking." I'd use dad's home-made brick bar-b-que as my pretend oven, to continue with this playful game. Mom would always say "350 degrees for 45 minutes." Oh the memories!

Just got back from "Kash 'n' Karry" for more Certo, where the manager said he provides a value-added "JAM TESTING" service just for ladies like me. :-)

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
DearMYRTLE,
6023 26th Street West PMB 352
Bradenton, FL 34207
http://www.DearMYRTLE.com

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