Jam Man

My husband is a jam-making machine. It’s as if he stepped into a telephone booth wearing his summer uniform of khaki shorts and faded polo shirts and changed into a superman of jam. Yesterday he asked me to help him pick blackberries from Hank Kraszewski’s farm stand at 324 County Road 39 in Southampton.

In no time we had our panniers full of big fat blackberries the size of small apples. We picked the Kiowa variety but Patrick Carroll, Hank’s salesperson tells me they also grow triple crown and Chester varieties. You can pick the berries yourself from mid-July through mid-September.

My husband boils the jars bought from the hardware store and works with factory-like precision. Then he strains the fruit to get all the pips out and measures sugar and boils it up according to the recipes on the Certo pectin package. He melts wax to seal each filled jar. He wipes off any excess jam and the result is beautiful pots of fruit nectar with light coming through the rich transparent color. His nine jars in three rows are lined up on the kitchen counter like British redcoats off to war. He leaves the stove spotless with only a few jam drips here and there.

A red Sharpie is used on the oval sticky labels that come with the jam jars. He has had offers from a local farm stand to sell his jam but he prefers to keep it for friends and family. When our kids and grandchildren visit they get to take one home. Fruit spreads link us to our agrarian past and to the next generation.

My Jam Man. He produces blackberry jam with no pips and smoothes out life’s bumps. What could be better?