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Wednesday, 3 July 2013

jam jar etiquette : lesson five



Making jam is an activity that I enjoy, and sometimes being by yourself fiddling around with fruit and sugar, stirring, sorting out jars and lids can be a very calming, almost therapeutic pastime.  Other times I turn the radio up (and up and up) and sing (completely out of tune, and very likely the wrong words) while dancing (out of time and trying not to tread on Eli) around the kitchen ~ as my poor postman discovered last week!  Anyway, sometimes I can be perfectly happy going solo, but other days I wonder . . .

 . . . Do I have to do it all by myself, on my own, all alone and lonely?
* * * * *
Of course the simple answer is no ~ grab a partner, or friend, or neighbour, or neighbour's partner ... and if none of them are available, or you and your partner are in the middle of one of those agonising silent arguments where you are being excruciatingly polite to one another, or your neighbour's partner is helping their partner make jam (the cheek!), you can grab a child.  Preferably one of your own, or one that at least lives in the same house as you ~ much less paper work and police involvement that way.


I'd like my children to have the same opportunity to experience that smug satisfaction as I get, presenting a jar to someone, all prettied up; or spotting a small collection of jars in the fridge, all different jewel like shades.  The only problem is, for them to enjoy the smugness, they have to have had something to do with making the jam, and since I truly believe that children are, to a certain extent, shaped by their environment, I have to bite the bullet and encourage them to join in.  Not every time (I'm actually not a sadist) but just every so often.

There are obvious hazards involved in doing this, but as long as you apply a bit of common sense there's no reason your child / children can't join in.  I don't mean hand them a bag of sugar and point them in the direction of your biggest saucepan while you head out to bingo.  In case you missed it just then, common sense, combined with knowledge of your child and a bit of creativity can mean everybody who wants to gets to contribute, and then share in that smug afterglow.


(And again...) While I would say the whole hot sugar thing makes a big part of jam making potentially a bit risky for young children, there's always plenty of non~sugar involved tasks ~ wash the plums, peel the apples, take the tops off the strawberries, squash the blueberries, squeeze the lemons, write the name on the label, wipe any sticky bits off the jar once it's cooled...  

Depending on the ages of the children, and how cooperative /  focused / destructive you think they are feeling at the time, choose your delegated responsibilities carefully!  I remember setting Petal up at the kitchen table with a few sheets of plain white printer labels and a handful of felt tip pens to decorate the labels while I made the jam ~ she would have been two or maybe just turned three I guess.  Once the jam was finished I sat down with her and wrote the name of the jam in black onto the beautifully multicoloured scribbly labels, and she stuck them onto the jars.  Most of them were presents for other people and I could see the beginning of that satisfaction and pride in herself as she handed them over.


That's all (for now) folks!
I'll edit this post to add in some photos of decorated jars when I get a chance, but who knows when that will be!  A delicious new recipe coming soon ~ juicy fruity summer~y jam . . . yum.




Congratulations 
       ~ you've now completed jam jar etiquette lesson five!


jam jar etiquette : lesson one asked 'why make jam?'; whether to buy new jars or reuse those you already have; and how to store empty jars should you decide to reuse.

jam jar etiquette : lesson two asked whether you suffer from the stinky jar problem, and showed you a way to triumph over the stinkiness.

jam jar etiquette : lesson three asked 'sterilizing jars ~ why and how?'

jam jar etiquette : lesson four discussed out what saucers in the freezer had to do with jam, and offered a different way of checking the consistency of your jam.

And today, in jam jar etiquette : lesson five, I asked 'do I have to do it on my own, by myself, all alone and lonely?'

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