When November comes, it usually wipes out whatever is left in the garden. The trees are bare, the bay turns a dark, cold blue, and what doesn’t turn black in the frost just fades to at least ten shades of brown and beige. It always seems like a long wait for the snow to wash everything clean and white.
This year has been so different. The grass is still green, and the last of the leaves are still clinging on to the trees. There are still flowers growing, although this bunch of calendula and strawberry leaves I picked today is probably the last of the year. Our girls are still running around in their bare feet, and no matter how many times I pack away the shorts and t-shirts, Ava keeps digging them out again. We have been putting the garden to bed, a little late this year because what good weather did not happen in June and July came along in September and October instead. So, that has meant picking apples at the orchard late in October, snacking on carrots straight out of the dirt right up until last week, and finally getting around to making the crabapple jelly the first week of November. Jelly-making is not a task I take lightly, meaning I put it off as long as I humanly could. The apples lasted an amazingly long time, but I finally gave up the excuse of “I can’t find any cheesecloth” and got down to the business.
It is such a touchy business. I boiled that jelly and boiled it and boiled it, sterilized the jars and canned it. I even boiled the filled jars to seal them and kill off any bacteria that could possibly have survived this lengthy process. And you know what? It did not gel.
I cursed those jars. Those beautiful jars of ruby red crabapple juice sat there for a week, staring at me every time I came into the kitchen. Finally I opened all the sealed jars, poured it back in the pot and boiled the crap out of it again. I rewashed and sterilized the jars again, and canned the juice again. There is something satisfying (thank goodness) about hearing the lids pop as they cool and seal. This time it gelled into gorgeous, darker red jelly, and I heaved a sigh of relief. As did Dan. He was mostly relieved he didn’t have to listen to me complain about the jelly anymore.
It is really and truly delicious, by the way.