Monday, 29 August 2011


Before I get started, the verification word of the day was 'someraca' which I believe is a small percussion instrument in the style of a tambourine filled with dried lentils for the adding of rhythm to a sad song.

So, this morning, Andy performed a dawn raid on the damson trees in the park and returned with a colander full of damsons. Whether this fruit theft will result in a visit from the damson police remains to be seen but there is a frisson of tension in the air as we await the knock on the door.

'I'm going to make jam,' he announced after I'd shown suitable admiration for his subterfugal fruit gathering prowess.
'Okay,' said I.
'Only this year I am going to de-pit the damsons before they go into the jam pan, because last year it was a complete faff skimming the pits off after the jam had cooked,' said Andy.
'And if I remember rightly,' I said,' there were some rogue pits who refused to be skimmed and remained in the jam to be discovered later in a gruesome teeth-crunching fashion.'
'Yes,' said Andy.
'And finding a stray stone in your jam by biting down on it is second only to finding a piece of gunshot pellet in your pheasant,' I said.
'Which wouldn't bother you now as you are a vegetarian,' said Andy.
'Quite so,' said I. 'And it would be nice for my teeth not to have to worry about jam either.'

So Andy set about the de-pitting of teeny tiny stones from teeny-tiny damsons and it was a bit painful to watch because even though his is a surgeon, a damson 'n' veg knife combination is a slightly different ball game to say, a scalpel 'n' Great Dane combination.

So I joined in, being marginally more nimble of finger and messy of technique. And it only took us an hour. Sheesh!

'The recipe doesn't mention exact sugar quantities,' said Andy.
'What do you mean?' I said. 'Of course it does. What sort of recipe doesn't mention exact quantities of sugar?'
'The one in this book,' said Andy, waving the jam-making book at me.

He was right. It merely said, 'Add sugar.'
'How about I use the quantities mentioned in the recipe for plum jam?' said Andy. 'Would that make a difference?'
I shrugged. 'Plum schmum, damson schmanson,' I said. 'It's all the same to me. But why would the book be specific on sugar quantities for plum jam and not damson jam?'
'I don't know,' said Andy. 'P'raps it's a charming quirk of the author.'
'There is no room for charming quirks in the making of jam,' I said. 'It's an exacting process. You're a scientist. You should know these things. I can't believe you are being so lacksidaisical about sugar quantities.'
'Calm down, dear,' said Andy, 'it's only jam.'

Well, I thought, for someone who was very insistent about removing all the pits before cooking, I find the whole lack of sugar precision thing most strange.

But the jam is made. We were woefully inadequate in the spare jam jar department, because of honey harvest, so there is a large jug of jam in the fridge along with seven jars of random sizes.

And yesterday, when we were on our way back from bee-checking our apiary, we popped into a farm yard that was selling large quantities of apples, plums and pears for very little money, so I suspect there may be some more jam-making in the offing. And possibly some wine-making, too.

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