My mother spent her whole youth making jams, jellies, sauces, ketchup, sherbets and squashes at home. Every season guavas, apples, apricot, and mangoes were cooked in pots and packed in bottles. In winter tomatoes were simmered, strained, seasoned and poured into bottles. Oranges and limes were squished into squashes. Our home would forever be fragrant with fruit cooking. I on the other hand was not only uninterested in it but also disliked what she made. The lure of factory made junk advertised on TV and eaten by friends was too much for a kid to appreciate the hard work that goes into making preserves at home.
Like everything else in life, my mother did not force her cooking down our throats nor did she insist I learnt making them. She and her red diary, one with my nani’s and mama’s handwriting, were happy in the kitchen alone. I never felt the need to intrude. The result was bottles filled with tomato ketchup and puree, jellies and jams, squashes and sherbats, none of which I found worthy of my attention or tasting. Oh how wrong I was. Initially she would give it to friends and family and keep some to last us a few seasons. She also took it home for her parents and brothers, all of whom would them sit around the table and reminisce about the gold-old-days of their youth.
But in life there comes a point were past gets more and more distant and current responsibilities and priorities take precedence. It may have been our indifference, her age and responsibilities, or just life that made her slowly, though steadily draw away from preserving. “No one eats it, I don’t want to waste my energy,” she’d sometime tell father when he chided her for not making her ketchup and buying it from the market.
None of this mattered to us of course. The kids blinded by the brash advertising of junk camouflaged as fancy food. We were happy to buy cheap sauces and sugary jams that tasted like industrial junk and not having to be embarrassed in from of friends about the garlicky, spicy sauce made at home. And I was perfectly okay with that.
But no, making this jam/jelly/compote/preserve was not a result of that realization. At first it was just boredom and too many cherries at home, then it was the joy of creating something new, then too many peaches or plums, or mangoes or something or another. And so, every fruit has now been jammed. There is only one problem, like me my children do not want to eat any of this and I am wondering what to do with all the jamming.