Preserving the Influencers and how they influence the preserves

Today I am making jam and marmalade.   Over this weekend I will have made about 60 jars of preserves using rescued fruit and recycled jars as part of the Janeys Jars project that supports youth and community initiatives.  It’s a small thing that I can do to be a responsible citizen, reduce food waste, minimize landfill and provide support to others.  As I wait for the marmalade to come to the boil there is a calming, almost hypnotic, range of scents, sights and sounds that evoke a range of emptions and memories.  Today, I paused and pondered the influencers in my life that inspired and instructed me in the homely arts of making jams, marmalades, pickles, relishes, sauces and chutneys.

I have written elsewhere of the professional chefs and hospitality professionals who influenced my career; of the meals that provided sustenance and stability; the travels and tastings that woke my taste-buds and the celebrity chefs with ideas that challenges my skills….but this is not for them. 

Today I recognize the influencers that taught me to rescue the surplus, the ugly, the unwanted and often the prime – to squirrel it away for the lean times, to trap the seasonal flavors for year round enjoyment and to have patience. This stuff takes time, attention to hygiene, a bit of science but most of all a passion for what you are doing. pay homage to those who grew their own produce, others who foraged for wild fruit, some who purchased the end of season remnants or the astute who purchased when oversupply drove prices down. Fruits such as Apple, Currant, Raspberry, Citrus, Japonica, Strawberry, Apricot, Pie Melon, Plum, Passionfruit, Bananas, and Blackberry as well as Tomatoes, Onions, Capsicum, Cauliflower, and Beans all saved, processed, preserved and stored in bottles and jars by individuals or groups gathering together to pool their resources.

At this point I must confess that some of my preserving attempts have been dismal failures – the times when I thought I could move faster, ignore the boring bits, mess with the basic ratios or take a range of clever shortcuts  –  the times when I ignored the collective wisdom of  generations of experience that had been passed on to me.  

Now I have settled my rampant enthusiasm, returned to the basic recipes and instructions, methodically practiced the tried and true, and recalled the oral explanations.  Today, as I patiently wait while Mandarins boil for the marmalade,  I humbly acknowledge the patience and wisdom of my influencers past and present – Nana, Nan, Mum, Mothers of my friends, my other Mother, Aunts,  Mother in laws,  Sister, Cousins, friends, the inherited DNA of Kuia & Whaea that I have never met … and my Dad.   Yes my Dad – we used to make Mix’n’Made marmalade and jam  from a tin while Mum worked the night shift, happy memories. 

This is a thank you to you all for walking beside me, overseeing my jam pan and having your voice in my ear as I preserve the traditions of my influencers who have preserved before me.

Quote attributed to E.A. Bucchianeri


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