Last month we broke open the seal on our last pint jar of mulberry jam. It took us back to the summer days when the mulberry tree on the Elmhurst Cemetery fence line was laden with ripe fruit. “I wish we could pick mulberries now,” one son said.
We recalled how the tree had been loaded with mulberries and we’d gotten permission from the cemetery manager to pick the berries, promising him some mulberry cobbler in return. He was surprised some days later when we actually delivered the warm dessert, fresh out of the oven. “This cobbler is best the first day,” I told him. He responded by saying we should help ourselves to more mulberries if we like.
Throughout the month we picked enough for two small batches of mulberry jam, three cobblers and over a month’s worth of smoothies. Plenty of the berries also went straight into the boys’ mouths, staining their lips a deep purple. One time when we were picking, my younger son climbed the chain link fence to reach some berries that were higher in the tree. When his older brother attempted the same thing, he scratched his knee. I sent the crying boy and his younger brother home together. Daddy was there to wash the wound and wipe away the tears…
Now the last of the berries are gone -I scraped the jar clean this morning – and the apple butter we made last fall is history too (we shared, really). I was trying to figure out what sort of jam to make this time of year. I pulled out Old-Time Farmhouse Cooking for a bit of inspiration and found “Anna’s Carrot Jam,” coming from a newspaper clipping circa 1914. “Composed of the humblest ingredients, it never fails to prove a pleasing combination,” the author claimed. I had never heard of carrot jam before. I did a bit more reading and found some other recipes courtesy of the World Carrot Museum.
My preschooler and I gave it a try this morning. I peeled and cut up about a pound of carrots and simmered them in a little water until tender. After I had drained them and tried to mash them I realized I should have cooked them a bit longer for easier mashing. Nothing that additional cooking time and an immersion blender couldn’t fix, though. We added two cups of sugar and the juice of one lime, cooked the mixture a few minutes, put the blender to work, and then simmered the jam until it jellied. “Someone might think it’s marmalade,” my son said even before he tasted it. I couldn’t argue – it is orange with a fairly strong citrus flavor. He sampled it and pronounced it good. I told him that he doesn’t need to tell his brother (who has a strong dislike of cooked carrots) what’s in the jam. Final reviews will be out after breakfast tomorrow.