Thursday, May 5, 2011

It could have been worse

Strawberries in the sink, before the fire

It all started with a vacation. My dad was going to Texas to visit his brothers and sisters but, intoxicated by spring, he bought a flat of strawberries the day before he was scheduled to leave. As a result, I got the flat, minus the 4 or 5 berries he managed to eat while he packed.

"Jam!" I thought. I had everything I needed to make it, but it had been a while since I had canned so I was a little nervous. But, I followed all of the directions and things turned out pretty well.

I did accidentally set myself on fire for a minute, but miraculously my hoodie withstood the flames really well and I don't have a mark on me. I had three burners going on the stove. On the front right burner I had the giant canning pot, heating up to sterilize the jars. On the back left I had the jam cooking, and on the front left I had the lids boiling away. Right about the time that the lids finished the sterilization process the jam had reached the scum-skimming stage. I took the lids off the front left and moved them to the back right burner to sit. Then I got hot! All that steam was getting to me so I took off my hoodie. Then I realized I was wearing a new white shirt underneath (jam splatters!) so I took the hoodie and wrapped it around me like an apron, tying the arms behind me like strings. Ominous foreshadowing: this meant the hood was dangling in front.

Next I noticed that the jam was going to be done before the jars were sterilized, so I cranked up the water holding the jars before getting to work on the scum. The pot was so large that I really had to get my face in there to see where all the scum was. Suddenly I smelled fire. Looking to my right I saw black smoke coming from the bottom of the jar pot. I panicked and turned the water off! Then I realized the black smoke was coming from me!!! I had leaned a little too far over the still-hot front burner while skimming and my hood had burned up pretty good.

I got four jars of jam out of the whole thing and nobody ended up in the hospital. Lesson learned? I need a giant stove! One that can accommodate giant pots for giant batches of jam. Then I wouldn't have to set myself on fire while skimming scum because I had to stagger one of my pots to the back burner. Doesn't that sound lovely?

In my dreams! In reality I'm more of a less is more person, so I think I will just move the jar pot to the back and keep the jam in the front :)

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