Batch 33 =
I started making jam when I was 7. I would climb the tree in our yard, shake the branches that were covered with ripe apricots and watch my mother scurry to catch them as they fell from the tree. I watched her transform the golden-ripe fruit into warm, sweet jam, so full of flavor you could eat it with a spoon. As I got older, she would let me take a turn at stirring the boiling jam, for practice.
I have been practicing ever since, through law school and single motherhood, through a career as a children's lawyer and a happy second marriage and my travels around the world.
I figured out where to find the most ethical farmers, respectful stewards of our land, who use only organic and pesticide-free practices. I learned how to choose the juiciest strawberries, the richest plums, the peaches that held the flavor of the sun. I learned to make jam in a copper pot on a gas range, to bring out the flavor with a quick squeeze of Meyer lemon from my garden, to watch for the fruit to start to shine and thicken signalling it is done.
You cannot make jam that good on the first batch. Or even necessarily on the 10,000th. Every piece of fruit is as different as every day. And who is counting, anyway? I still make all the jam myself, by hand, in small batches, and who cares how many batches it takes to get to perfect.