It was the summer of 1985. My husband and I were living in Saratoga Wyoming in a house (down by the river), now affectionately referred to as “The Hamburger House” (the house was converted sometime later into a little restaurant with that name).
One beautiful morning, my husbands grandmother stopped by to give us some fresh chokecherries she had just picked. She told me that I should make jam. Really? Being a rather adventurous soul, I decided to give it a try. As I remember, she gave me the recipe but to this day I have not been able to find where I wrote it down. I recently opened one of the only cookbooks I would have had at that time, the pages in the Canning & Freezing section curiously stuck together, and it all came back to me. She was telling me how to make jam as she was leaving, I didn’t write down anything. She kept giving me these little “hints” about what to look for in consistency, etc. I didn’t realize at the time how tricky it is to make good jam. I read the section in the cookbook and followed the directions; sterilizing my canning jars, making sure I hit the “hard rolling boil” stage, etc. When everything was said and done I had successfully created an excellent chokecherry syrup. Yep, syrup. I’m not sure what went wrong, but it was definitely not jam in my canning jars, in fact we ate the concoction (warm) over pancakes. This was my one and only attempt at making jam.
Thank you Grandma Ruth for a wonderful adventure in cooking!
My advice, if anyone ever gives you a recipe for something you have never attempted before, write it down and pay close attention to their tips for getting it right!