Canning jam is not only a great way to save money and know what's going
into the food you and your family are eating, but it's also a great way
to create fond memories.
Here is Dee Van Houten's story of jam making.
My aunt Emma, who lived in Pennsylvania, used to make elderberry jam, and it was the best that I had ever tasted. I have yet to find elderberry jam that even comes close to what hers tasted like.
She would use fresh elderberries, water, cane sugar, and some agar powder. She would simmer the elderberries, sugar and water until the sugar was completely dissolved.
After the agar dissolved so there were no lumps left, it was added to the elderberry sugar/water mix.
This mixture was then simmered for about 30 minutes until it was thick, the way jam should be.
Once the ingredients thickened, my aunt would smash it all up until the berries were mashed down, but she would always leave a few whole berries in the mixture. After that, the hot elderberry jam would be poured into sterilized jars and refrigerated after they cooled a bit.
I'll never forget the sweet smell and wonderful taste of my aunt's
One particular thing my aunt did (after she prepared the elderberry jam)
was instead of using tops on the jam jars, she would melt wax and shape
it on top of each jar.
I thought that was very cool and fun to lick the jam off the inside of
Once the wax was broken, she would place a 'real' lid on the jar. By far, it was the most delicious jam I've ever put in my mouth.
Sorry to say, but I have not made elderberry jam because I know I could
never capture my aunt's delightful taste of the jam.
This childhood experience did help me in gaining knowledge that making
something from scratch without cutting corners provides something much
more special and unique than trying to do it the fastest way.
I always use this skill when I paint a picture, and I always start from scratch. I prefer a real paintbrush over an electronic paintbrush as it is more personal and gives the artwork a 'human touch' which is what my aunt did every time she prepared the elderberry jam from scratch.
To this day, if I ever see a jar of elderberry jam for sale in a store, I usually purchase it and hope that it is as great as my aunt's jam was, but in every store-bought jar, the taste was never the same. I still love elderberry jam though!
You can see Dee's artwork here.