Monday, December 19, 2011

Must Be Jelly 'Cause Jam Don't Shake Like That!

An obvious gift project for the radical homemaking, gardening, foraging, food preserving, DIYer is jams, jellies and syrups. I spent last weekend on just such an endeavour and the result is many sweet gifts for the holidays.I made jelly for the first time ever and I'm thrilled that it turned out. I used Pomona's Universal Pectin, so was able to use a fraction of the sugar most recipes call for. The instructions were very easy to follow and the process was fairly quick. I think I'm a jelly convert!

I made two kinds from fruit that I harvested from the garden or foraged for and froze.

I also made a lot of elderberry syrup. This can be used as medicine for colds and flus, or simply as a delicious treat drizzled over ice cream or yogurt, added to soda water or hot cocoa.

I'm really beginning to appreciate how, as I move along on this adventure of mine, the ability to pull off projects like this gets easier and easier. It doesn't just stem from the familiarity of doing things multiple times. It comes from a shifting mindset. When you start gathering and growing food in its season, by necessity you begin to store and preserve it properly. Soon you have a larder stocked full, which needs to be managed and maintained. You develop the ability to plan ahead and recognise future uses for things that might not seem immediately obvious. Waste is a tragedy, creativity an imperative.

In making these gifts, the only thing I had to go out to the store for, was the lemon juice. All the other items I needed were already on hand. Some of the elements like the jars have been around for a couple of years and are constantly being rotated through a myriad of uses. Some elements were plucked off the bush and vine under warm sunshine in a season now past. The canning pot is a permanent fixture that spends most of its time on the pantry shelf patiently waiting for when its needed.

You know, I've spent a fair amount of energy over the last few years on emergency preparedness. I have water, food, light and fuel stored to get me through a month, maybe two of some kind of calamitous event and I definitely feel a sense of security from that. But I feel a great deal of gratitude in knowing that, if my income was suddenly cut off, or a large scale power outage closed most of the ATMs and stores for days, or a heavy storm made getting out and about difficult, I have the materials, knowledge and resources on hand to create small gifts to share with others. Gifts that were deeply pleasurable to work on and made with love!

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