“Are we ready?”
I look down at my young son.
“Ready.” His big green eyes sparkle with the hunt.
I look up to my dear husband.
“Ready.” He adjusts his cap against the light.
The humidity intensifies as the early summer sun rises higher. The scent of bruised grass rises from the path trodden by those who’ve gone before us.
“Where do we begin?”
“Black currants,” declares Son.
We hoist our baskets from the dirt and head into the rows of lush green bushes.
“Way out at the end, where no one has picked before,” says Husband from long experience.
An hour later, we gather our spoils; 11 quarts of big juicy black currants. We raid the strawberry patch. A minor detour bags us some pink gooseberries. Those babies are so sour your toes will curl. Snow peas finish the morning, sweet and crunchy.
Sore of back and sticky of face, we head to the concession stand and devour our second reward for all our hard work; frozen strawberry yoghurt with berries from the nearby field.
At home, the real work begins. Son, so cute in his custom-sized apron, stands beside me at the sinks for the triple pick and rinse cycle. The scent rising off the sun-warmed currants is seriously heady stuff, reminiscent of gin.
Black currant mojito? Hmm…
Back to the pots—yes, that’s plural.
Measure the currants and into the pots they go. Measure half of the currants’ volume of sugar—one bowl for each pot.
Wait for the currants to juice up; then add the sugar.
Simmer 20 minutes or so until the jell starts to set.
Son’s weapon of choice? An enormous wooden spoon as long as his arm to stir occasionally so the bottom doesn’t burn.
Then set up the family production line. Son lifts a jar from the hot water and sets it on the counter. Mom (me) pours boiling jam into jar and seals it. Husband gloats over each new jar of black gold.
“Mine, all mine,” he jokes. Did I mention he’s a jam fiend?
“The whole family made it, so it’s Family Jam,” declares Son.
Our ultimate reward comes on a snowy Saturday morning. We pop a lid, releasing the scents of summer and the memories of a family outing.
This post was inspired by Pepper Phillips at Authors of Main Street. Thanks for the recall!
© Joan Leacott 2012, photo by Aconcagua