08 April 2013

Surplus jars of jam

According to the date scrawled on the lid of a jar of last year's strawberry jam, and according to the itchiness in my eyes, it's springtime and we're about six weeks away from starting up the 2013 home canning season.

And I am nowhere near using up what I canned last year.

This doesn't necessarily indicate poor pantry planning. In fact, it's lovely to have a well-stocked pantry during the time of year when, traditionally, people would be scrounging for food from half-rotten potatoes and livestock that had grown thin over the winter. And we aren't too many generations removed from the food insecurity that occurred annually in the gap between using up the last of the stored harvest and bringing in the next year's harvest. April, May, and June -- in the northern hemisphere -- used to be very scary months. (There's a phrase for that period of time, but I can't recall it at the moment. Comments welcome.)

Furthermore, what looks like poor planning can simply be the odd result of windfalls and good deals during canning season. Recall that I went nuts on blueberries last summer, taking advantage of an opportunity to u-pick 12 pounds cheaply, and canned six half-pints of jam. By the end of the summer fruit season, I'd finished three batches of jams, a batch of marmalade, and a batch of apple butter. In retrospect, it was enough for about a year and a half, not a single year.

Not to beg the question that I should make only enough jam for a single year. Some jams get better with a little more age. Certainly the blueberry jam did: the slightly tart berries mellowed into a rich, intense blueberry flavor. And it's an opportunity to work more protein into my mostly vegetarian diet by adding a tablespoon or so of jam to a teacup of yogurt, yum.

Anyway, our community-supported agriculture subscription starts up in a few weeks, but I still have a few months' worth of jam left in the pantry. Yikes!

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