Monday, October 5, 2009

Goodness gracious great jars of jelly

A busy weekend here in my little town. Crammed in between 'Whip It' and the Motor City Boogie Woogie Festival, my friend and I took full advantage of some free, gorgeous Concord grapes and made some jelly.

The experience reminded me that process matters. It changes your actual usable harvest. Before you can make jelly, you've got to get your grapes to give up their juice. This involves much mashing and heating. I split the harvest into two nearly identical groups. I mashed and heated the first batch, gaining about 3 quarts of juice. I wasn't satisfied with that, so I did a little research. I realized that I needed to cook the second batch at a higher heat for a longer duration, and that small change nearly doubled the yield.

Before I could get too frustrated, I was also reminded that you've got to start somewhere. Processes are perfected as we go, we learn from our experiences.

Finally, I was guided by the experience of another. My friend came and shared her knowledge with me. She pointed out ways to tell when the jelly was ready beyond the temperature - how the edges should gain texture, how the bubbles change, how you can feel the texture change as you stir. She demonstrated the little things that make the task easier and more efficient.

Jelly making - it's a lot like life.

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