Making Jam

by Amy Allen from Lacombe, AB
Oct 3, 15

Back in 1987, my husband was settling nicely into his new job in Vegreville, Alberta. We were living in rented accommodations on a small acreage on the edge of town. The yard contained a nice garden, and a selection of attractive shrubs, including a couple of what I soon discovered to be blackcurrant bushes. It was my mother-in-law who suggested an adventure in jelly-making. I located a recipe, and picked several pails of the beautiful berries. 

A quick kitchen inventory revealed a serious lack of jelly-making equipment and since I hated the idea of messing up my relatively new pillowcases, I decided to innovate. Feeling pretty clever, I located my large 8-cup Rubbermaid measuring cup, a sturdy elastic band, and a chunk of cheesecloth. I set them on the counter. I then cooked down the berries. With the cooked fruit mash ready to strain, I attached the cheesecloth to the measuring cup with the sturdy elastic band. 

After pouring for several minutes, the weight of the fruit caused the elastic band to snap, flinging the entire mess against the kitchen walls, and floor.

Did I mention that black currants make a lovely natural dye? Did I mention the house was rented?

It took an hour, at least, to remove all traces of purple goo from the kitchen, sigh with relief and return to the job at hand. A quick ransack of the kitchen junk-drawer revealed a larger, sturdier bull-dog of an elastic band, so I began again, I attached the cheese cloth over the measuring cup, and I started to pour. 

This time, when the elastic band broke, it snapped with enough force to not only spatter the walls and floor but to also rocket handfuls of the purple mess all the way to the ceiling. 

I had to leave the room with a cup of tea in order to calm down.

When I had, calmed down, I returned to the kitchen and added what remained of the black currant mash to the compost pile. I’ve viewed the fruit with deep suspicion ever since. And jelly-making too, for that matter.