OK, I promise this will be the last post about preserves... at least for a while! Yesterday, while stirring up a batch of damson & ginger jam (above). I actually began to feel a bit tired of all the preparing and weighing and boiling, and scrambling to find enough jars...
Then I finished, and cut myself a slice of my homemade rye bread, spread on the plum jam (plums from our very own garden) and thought how very lovely it was to eat things entirely made by me, in the cosy home I love so much.
It reminded me of a conversation I once had with a philosopher about taste. We were walking through some fields in the South of France, picking plums and walnuts along the way. I was about 16 and had come to stay with a friend of my Dad's.
Anyway, the philosopher explained how the physiological experience of taste is always inextricable from all kinds of memories and mental associations. What we eat is flavoured by what we know, and who we are.
He used jam as an example. When we eat jam made from fruit we've picked ourselves, it's not just our tastebuds reacting, we're also tasting the memories of gathering the fruit, of stirring the pot, of the sunny day and fragrant kitchen, and of the conversations and silences that accompanied all that.
So you see it's more than just preserving fruit: it's a little taste of past time.