Thursday, March 1, 2012

Trial and Error

OK Jammers! 50 wacks with a ladle to my knuckles for neglect of my blog! True, I have been gone for too long but I am a Jam Maker first and blogger.....where does that fit in after jam, social life, bills, house cleaning......OK so I neglect the house cleaning too!

It's been an interesting time beginning a business.  I have been blessed with the mentorship of a wonderful experienced business professional who has coached me along the way. My business at the Covington Farmer's Market is growing and me with it. I so look forward to Market Day! After my many years of travel, there is a sense of roots, connection and community at the Farmer's Market that just speaks to my soul. For a tumbleweed, what I am experiencing now was just beyond my comprehension. I am far from financially rich off this but I can tell you I am very rich in spirit! I decadantly look forward to each market day and revel in what ever weather elements, making note of each face that I begin to recognize as a regular to the Market and to my litle booth.

So....the trial and error of it all.  How does that fit in?  Life is a lot like jam making.  If you change one component, even though it's the same but by another maker, all of the components change and sometimes not in a happy way.  Lets talk science!

In the beginning I bought a digital refractometer so I could test the ripeness of fruit and the doneness of my product (called Brix).  Fruits have more pectin in their structure when slightly unripe and your grandma (if she was a Jammer) would also select 25% of her fruit to be slightly to the greener side. This would give you a nicer jell and consistancy but would be a tad tart so then we introduce sugar to the mix for preservation puroposes as well as taste and you have a jar of happiness. Wanna know why??? Good, cause I'm gonna tell ya.  Pectin loves sugar! Loves it so much it wants to be a part of it and bind with it. Together it makes happy chains of love, Sugar and Pectin.....yet even with these happy little chains of love something is missing.....Enter PH. Jam and Jelly like to be on the slightly acid side to make total endearing happiness.  That's why many of the recipes you see include lemon juice.  Happy little lemons, I tell ya,  when life gives you lemons you know you got it good! So the lonely little acid molecules are the life of the party! They LOVE Sugar! They LOVE Pectin.  They just spread their love around and introduce the happy chains of sugar and pectin to other happy chains of sugar and pecting and they all come together in a happy chain of JAM! Jam is just like life! In Life you take the happy stuff and add it to the happy stuff and before you know it, it's spreading everywhere! Now how do I know all this??? Back to trial and error.

The digital refractometer was defective. I'm an analog kinda girl.  I like to do my own thinking, as you can see by my analogy of happy jam. I sent the refractometer back and to my delight I found a good old fashioned, calibrate yourself 0-80% Brix refractometer! So now I can actually go to my produce growers and check the ripeness of their product to get the combinations of ripeness that I need for my product and get this......I look so freaking geeky and smart with that thing up to my eye in the field! Really, it's not new, it's not magic, vinters have been doing it for like forever so they will know when the grapes are ready for picking. Sigh....I love my new geeky toys. Takes a ton of error out of the trials of recipe creation.

It's Spring here.  I promise to hope that it doesn't take me so long to post again but it's a trial and error everytime something new is introduced to the Jam and it's Strawberry Season!


  1. I should have known you'd have test equipment out in the berry patch!!! Loved reading this. I really look forward to trying some of your jam on one of my trips to Baton Rouge. Maybe I'll have my bee farm going soon and I'll trade you a jar of honey for a jar of jam! :o)

    1. Bees! My friend Jan is having bees for the first time this year. I am so jealous! I wanted bees so bad, I have the perfect place for them. I went to a beekeeping forum at LSU about a decade back and in the process I requested to get stung to get over any fears and it took 3 weeks for the welp to go down so I suspect I may be allergic. She is getting Russians, what kind are you getting?