Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Raspberry Jam II

Thanks to
your article I had to make myself a raspberry jam sandwich! It was store-bought jam but it took care of the craving!

I just wanted you to know that I have enjoyed reading your blogs and such for about six months now. There were a couple of times I wanted to make a response, but didn't. This time I thought I would share. My Nana great-grandmother used to wear an apron just like you are talking about, I have a picture of her in it, giving me a bath when I was a baby.
This picture was taken in January 1956. It brings many wonderful memories, I really miss her! I remember her having the softest skin, taking my sisters and me to the circus (on the bus) and being very nurturing and caring.
My great-grandmother, Augusta Pauline Ochs was born August 17th 1888 in Pennsylvania. Her parents were born in Germany. She lived with my grandparents as early as I can remember, and always had an apron on. This pix was in my baby book. I think I remember more of her apron from 8 mm movies my dad took. The 1910 census states she was a servant in Oregon. I believe that is what she knew best, cooking and cleaning, and of course taking care of me!

I don't remember seeing Nana make jam. I think I was too young to remember if she did. But of all jams you made, RASPBERRY! Made my mouth water, that is my absolute most favorite thing, and homemade to boot! This is such a lost art. I have never had the opportunity to make any jam or anything. I wished I knew how. I don't suppose you have a recipe to share would you?

DearCHERYL,Ol’ Myrt simply loves the picture of you and your Nana great-grandmother. Thank-you for taking the time to scan this in so we can share it with my readers. The wall-mounted faucet is just as I remembered in my Gramma Myrtle’s kitchen, complete with the little soap tray, which in your picture is sporting a start of a plant in a cup.

Remember how our mothers and grandmothers used to make cuttings of plants, and place them in water near the sink in the kitchen until they developed roots and could be transplanted to a pot with soil? I think a watchful eye, and the high-humidity of the kitchen sink environment really helped the process along.

I think we’ve all had our turn at a baby bath in the kitchen sink as either the "bathee" or the "bather" so to speak. Your Nana provided you the added comfort of sitting in a large round white enameled bowl set in the sink. I am not sure if the trim on the rim is red or black. I’ve seen many that have a red trim.

It looks like your Nana great-grandmother is wearing a hair net. That was the style then, even if one wasn’t a cook at a restaurant. She is wearing wire rimmed glasses, a polka dot dress and of course THE apron.

From all indications in the picture, your Nana sure is taking good care of you, Cheryl. And it looks to me like she is beaming a great smile as she looks at you, her dear little great-granddaughter. You are looking out at the world from the safety of Nana great-grandmother’s arms -- she held you carefully to be sure that you don’t slip on your Ivory soap. Little did anyone know this picture would someday become famous.

Looking at your picture makes me I remember our gossamer “Priscilla” window curtains that criss-cross at the top, and have tiebacks on the sides, so its possible to see outside. Yours in the picture have the requisite ruffles on the leading and bottom edges, but have the added embellishment of the plaid fabric along the hem. Really neat!

Ol’ Myrt promised you in our private emails back and forth that I would divulge our family’s secret recipe for Raspberry Jam. But of course, I need to give you a little background, first.

In the spring 1972 my Gramma Myrtle (of raspberry fame and the inspiration for my DearMYRTLE nom de plume) was getting very weak from Lou Gehrig's Disease. She couldn’t speak in early March when we came up to visit her, so she relied a Magic Slate like this one currently for sale at to communicate her thoughts. Perhaps readers will remember writing with a plastic stylus to make an imprint, then erasing your marks by lifting the plastic film up from the waxy black background.

Ol’ Myrt is telling you about the Magic Slate, because it makes the next part all the more special.

A month or so later, I received a package with a letter. I had written to ask Gramma about the recipes for raspberry jams and apricot preserves. Her 4-page letter was remarkable, and precious because I know how hard she had to work to even sit up with Lou Gehrig's Disease sapping her energy and coordination. Her reply came just in time, because fruits for jamming come into season in late June or July. This meant I would have plenty of time to prepare.

From watching Gramma Myrtle as a child, I knew to gather the right implements including:
  • Large water-bath canner with metal rack to hold the jars in place. I recommend getting the largest one you can find, so that if you really get into canning the canner will accommodate the quart-sized jars you may use. Martha Stewart makes one and sells it through K-Mart.
  • Jar tongs for moving jars in and out of the boiling water. They now come with a wonderful plastic coating, as shown in the new set of tongs I purchased last summer at Remlinger Farms in Carnation, Washington.
  • 4 Cup pyrex glass measuring cup If it is glass, you can be positive about your measuring. And precise measurement of ingredients is a must.
  • Large steel cooking pot This must accommodate the fact that as the jam cooks, it “gets bigger” particularly after adding the pectin.
  • Wide funnel to percent spills when ladling hot jam into a jar.
  • High quality metal ladle I don’t use any aluminum in the kitchen, as I don’t want anything to leech into the jam.
  • High quality metal spoon for skimming off the foam after cooking the jam.
  • Extra “regular size” dome lids The ones you use cannot have any nicks or have been used before.
  • Ball, Kerr or Mason brand glass jars. Ball no longer makes home canning products. Go to for information on home canning jars, recipes, the Ball Blue Book, etc.
I opened the letter from Gramma Myrtle, and quickly scanned the pages for the ancient not-so-Chinese secret. Simply put, she said the recipe is on the back of the Certo label.

MORE tomorrow.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
Your friend in genealogy.

(c) 2007 Pat Richley All Rights Reserved.

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