There’s an age-old rhythm to making jams and pickles that plants us in the seasons, the land, and our heritage. It’s the rhythm that grows out of rituals practiced by countless generations pouring potions of pickling spices, vinegar, and sugar over freshly picked cucumbers nestled in large jars. Every time I slip a thermometer into a roiling pot of fruit, sugar, and spices, I flash back to my 4-year-old self, obediently sitting on a high stool, watching a woman who was like a grandmother to me magically make preserves from the juicy, plump blackberries we’d picked that morning in long white gloves to protect our arms from the briars.
Just as Freemasons passed through stages of learning in shrouded ceremonies staged in their lodges, those of us who jam and pickle possess secret knowledge passed from grandmother to mother to daughter to granddaughter. This lineage of knowledge gives me a sense of belonging to something bigger than me, and larger than the small kitchen I pad around in my bare feet. It connects me to generations of berry-stained fingers as I carefully funnel hot preserves into jars and seal them. And it comforts me.
I recently connected with Wendy Read at The Food and Wine Conference I attended in Orlando. Wendy is a High Priestess of Preserves who has turned her passion for preserving food into a business, Sunchowder Emporia. Wendy and I first met through Food52, then later via the huge world of social media, and were really excited to finally meet in person. I was curious, since we sometimes create an image of someone’s persona over the internet that doesn’t line up with reality . Anyone who’s been on any of the on-line dating services knows this. But from the moment I saw Wendy in the hotel lobby, I felt like I’d known her forever. She is a genuine, caring woman who transfers those qualities to every step of making her fabulous preserves and pickles. From working with growers to ensure careful sourcing of the freshest ingredients available for her Peach Lavender Jam, Jalapeño, Apricot and Wildflower Honey Jam, and Spiced Pear Butter, to her small-batch process by hand – it’s the perfect marriage of art, science, and love.
For the next week, I’m hosting a giveaway of a package of two seasonal preserves from Sunchowder Emporium, giving you an opportunity to try them first-hand. The winner will have the opportunity to select from the seasonal preserves available on Wendy’s site. So enter the sweepstakes using the Rafflecopter gizmo below, and go check out Wendy’s jams on her Sunchowder website to see what you might choose!!