As a child growing up on a farm in Virginia, we learned to grow our own food as well as raise a cash crop. Our Mom spent many hours working with us to harvest and preserve food. As she aged, Mom slowly reduced the items she preserved, but still kept making some of those things like jellies. After she passed away in 2008, my sisters and I were clearing out the household goods. In my stash were two jars of jelly, which I saved, probably because she had made them more than that I expected to eat them someday. Mama grew up during the depression and didn’t waste anything, including jelly jars. The two I brought home were old 40 oz., JIF  Peanut butter jars, with the labels still attached, which she used for the jelly, put up in 1981. Who would expect 33 year old jelly to be any good?

The other day I went looking for a jar of jelly and decided to open one of those old jars. Well, shut my mouth. When I opened that jelly, it was “goood.” The seal was sound and there was no pitting or etching of the inside lid. The jelly was firm and no crystallization or mold was apparent. An initial taste test confirmed the goodness within. We toasted homemade bread, buttered it and slathered it with Mama’s homemade goodness.

One jar was made from Scuppernong grapes, which Daddy would have received in trade for watermelons or canteloupe. The other jar was wild berries which he would have gathered on our farm. Some of Mama’s favorite memories were of Daddy, grinning from ear to ear just like a kid, as he walked across the back yard with his baseball cap filled with blackberries.

Mama's Last Gift

A 40 oz. jar of jelly was too big to handle. We decided to divide it into smaller containers. While we were at it, we sterilized new jars and lids and heated the jelly to boiling and reprocessed them in a water bath without adding additional pectin. Each of these large jars made three 12 oz. new jars.  The USDA recommends using home canned items within one year, so I’m not encouraging anyone to do this.

As we enjoyed the homemade bread and jelly,  I remembered my mother. Throughout her life she unselfishly gave of her time, experience and values. It was wonderful to be wrapped in Mama’s arms one more time with her last gift.

Billie Nicholson, Editor
December, 2014

This month’s issue includes:

  • During our conversations with Pearl Harbor Survivors, they continued to warn us of the importance of being prepared – on every level, from our national military down to each individual. During World War II, everyone sacrificed to insure that world peace would be restored.

  • Preparing for a Pandemic ~ A pandemic is basically a global epidemic. Learn how to protect your family should a viral sickness begin to spread around the world.
  • Generosity during the holidays often includes contributions to food banks. Think about contributing something healthy in your Food Bank Contribution.
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