Jam-making, and Gulf Wax

My annual jam sojourn began today. Right now, there are 16 pint-sized jars of sour cherry jam setting up on the counter. (I have enough sour cherries to make another 16, but I am considering cooking them down into a more old-fashioned type of pectin-free jam, which will probably result in less yield.)

I hope to make some blackberry jam in August when we’ll be able to go picking wild blackberries (we have a few patches to keep an eye on). And that may be it for jam-making for this year, depending.

There is something so refreshingly old-fashioned about making jam. It’s something your grandma might have done, something redolent of rubber gloves and aprons, homemade curtains and bustling efficiency. (My grandmas definitely did not make jam. I find it ironic that I have an interest in such an old-school art, when they were all about the convenience of buying a jar of jam off the shelf of a supermarket.) I think jam-making is about enjoying the process of making a great food as much as I enjoy eating the finished product.

In related news, I picked up some canning supplies for this batch at Wegman’s yesterday and was astonished to find Gulf Wax is still sold alongside products like jars and pectin. I thought everybody knew that using food-grade parrafin is unsafe for canning jam! I mean, yeah, your grandma might have used it, but that doesn’t mean it was the best idea. I also remember Southern home bakers from my childhood using Gulf Wax in their chocolate confections since they didn’t know how to temper chocolate. (Tempering chocolate can be a tricky skill, but I still don’t think that’s an excuse for cutting real chocolate with something as unpalatable as wax. Yuck.) Is there any other legitimate food-related use for Gulf Wax at this point? A quick google shows some recipes for using it as a component of surf wax, which is A-OK with me.


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