And so it came to pass that on the third day of the seventh month of the year 2015 Gradka awoke her factory floor workers at 5:00 a.m. but, rather than spring into action as planned, they gave her some canned and went back to sleep. But an hour later, I got up and while still not exactly springing into action, I did put on some clothes and hang out some laundry. Then I carried up from the basement the jars and the canning pot and from the refrigerator extracted 24 pounds of apricots and a bowl of lemons and from the cupboards fetched down the bag of sugar and the coffee and the French press and the tea pot and the tea, and, in general, got ready to start on jam.
At 8:00, with Scott also awake and caffeinated, work did indeed commence, using the Shiptonesque recipe scrawled on an envelope that some day I should copy to something more permanent.
After bringing to a boil and getting to a syrupy state two and two-thirds cup of sugar and half a cup of water, add two pounds of apricot and cook until mostly falling apart and somewhat reduced.
|First 2 pounds of apricots, sugar, and water|
Add the other two pounds of apricot and continue to cook down. When it seems about right (about an hour of cooking time total), add four tablespoons of lemon juice. Allow to cook another five minutes, then start ladling into prepared jars. There are never any photos of this stage as I’m too excited about ladling while everything is still properly hot to stop the proceedings and take photos. It’s usually a little messy too.
|80 degrees out the kitchen window|
This year we were a bit more scientific than some previous years, in part because there was some concern we didn’t have enough jars and didn’t want to start cooking jam we’d have no way to preserve. As a result, I can say that the first three batches figured out to 13.5 ounces of jam per pound of fruit while the final batch, somewhat worryingly, was 16 ounces of final product per pound; the unit cost, inclusive of some sloppy assumptions about electricity and water, were about .25 per ounce, not including labor.
Madame Gradka maintained an air of indifference when we gave her the numbers, but we think she was secretly pleased. It’s not every year that she joins us for our post-production run snack break.
So, who wants jam? ( Seriously, tell me. We need to unload this stuff.)