Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Apples From Orchards, and Grapes From the Vine

        The jewels of September. See how they glow. Crab Apple. Apple-Maple and Wild Grape. Jelly and jam. Essence of Autumn. This is an abundance year. Some years are not so. This spring the blossoms smothered the branches. This fall the apples and grapes hang pendulous.

        Apple blossoms are like brides. Ethereal, blushing, full of sweetness. Fleeting beauty. The petals fall, carpeting the earth. The while, buds are forming, growing, maturing, becoming small, hard nubs, then ripening to full blown fruit.

           " As the apple tree among the trees of the wood...I sit down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit is sweet to my taste." sings the Song of Solomon.

         A hat full of wild grapes is the perfect amount to make Jam. I know this, because I raised free range children. Their play ground was the woods, and the streams and the meadows. They had two rules. One was, when you catch a brook trout, you run home with it as fast as possible. So I can cook and eat it while it still carries the taste of hilly brooks and granite shoals. The other was this. If you find wild grapes while exploring, mark that spot in your memory. And when they are ripe, turn your hat up, and fill it. Because who has a bucket on an explore? And many an adventure was had, high up in the trees, swinging and jumping to fill those hats. When they got older, there was pick ups to stand on, and reach grape vines, too.
        Long ago, when New Hampshire belonged to the deer and the Indians. Before these granite hills knew about September. When days were measured by moons and harvests. Already then the grape vines twisted around the mighty trees, God grew grapes. 
         On winter mornings, when you open a jar of wild grape jam, you are a part of the ages. There is the scent of warm autumn sunshine. The flash of blue sky. The light of the harvest moon. The taste on your tongue holds the tang of living, and dying. The sweetness of birth. The memory of other years.

       The essentials of jelly making. It's not hard. I use powdered pectin, and you just follow the directions in the box. So I don't need to go into that.

         This Foley Food Mill is the best thing if you make grape jam, rather than jelly. I see it now in antique shops, so it is old fashioned, but I like mine. A few turns of the crank and all the seeds and skins are separated from the pulp.

                                              Jewels, indeed!