It’s time for another Gourmet Gerde!
My husband loves jelly. Jelly, jam, whatever. It doesn’t matter what it’s made out of, just as long as it’s jelled. He would probably eat cat toots as long as they had pectin and came in a squat jar. And being a country boy, he grew up with plenty of sugary preserves. They were NEVER without . . . When the end of the world apocalypse hits and there is no more food, I’m going to Margaret’s. I am confident that his mom will have enough jam to keep me in the sugar low to which I have become accustomed . . . But to get back on topic . . . If his mother, grandmothers, and aunts did not have a homemade kegger of jelly or jam handy, his mom would buy jars of it at Allie’s, their local Mom and Pop store.
Allie’s Store was run by Allie. Obviously. But Allie was very, very old. The contents of her store were also old. Probably older than Allie. Allie sold peanut butter in cans. Cans, not jars. I think the last time they made canned peanut butter was before Germany invaded Poland. And the candy? The M&M’s were so faded, my husband grew up convinced they came in five shades of brown. The swirly ochre ones were his favorite. If I saw something swirly, ochre, and pellet shaped, I would not eat it. I would bury it.
But to get back on topic . . . My husband Randy has never met a jelly he didn’t like. Too bad he’d never met the grape jelly I grew up with.
In some ways, it fit his criteria: pectin, squat jar . . . And here is a bonus: It was homemade. Homemade from concord grapes handpicked by bored children. Yes, in the fall my brothers and I enjoyed tire swings, riding our bikes, and sharecropping.
This is how it happened:
Mom talked to old people.
The old people told her about a farmer who sold his grapes at a reduced price if you picked them yourself.
So Mom loaded us in her pink Rambler, drove us there, and turned us loose with the instructions to fill the boxes with grapes.
Being the youngest, I was the slowest picker. All I can remember about the event is that I couldn’t bring myself to touch the clusters covered in spider webs and dead flies. That, and I had to go to the bathroom and couldn’t find a toilet. I couldn’t even find an adult to ask about the toilet. So I fertilized one of the grape vines. Abundantly. I did not pick from that vine. You’re welcome, Mom.
Here is another bonus that made our grape jelly different than all the others. It came with seeds. I don’t know why. It wasn’t as if we didn’t have a sieve in the house. I can still remember crunching my way through my peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at school. There is nothing like the taste of a canned grape seed. When you crack the shell it explodes on your taste buds. And then it takes hours to get that burned rubber taste out of the back of your throat.
But to get to the point . . .
Our home made grape jelly would have defeated my husband.
“That’s some mighty fine jelly, Mizz Barnes . . .”
“Was that a grape seed?!”
Now strawberry jam? My mom made awesome strawberry jam. But not very much of it . . .
Here is my recipe for really good concord grape jelly:
1) Go to Wal-Mart.
2) Buy a jar of Smuckers.
Do you have any of your own food stories you want to share? You could even tell us about the time you accidentally stabbed yourself trying to make a ham sandwich for your dad. (That will be in another blog.) All memories are comment fodder.
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And don’t forget to check out the latest Photo-blog on the right about lies. Filthy grape lies. Just put your cursor over the picture to read the caption, or click on one if you want to leave your comment.