Jelly explosion changes perception on jams

Danny Andrews

Danny Andrews

I do not have high regards for home canning. I have no personal vendetta against homemade jams, jellies or olive oils, but so many attempt the impossible that I can’t feel anything but pity for these inexperienced Emerils.

My distrust goes back to middle school when a friend and I went to his house after school. His mother had apparently spent the day preserving crates of fruit and making said jams and jellies, and pleaded with us to try some ourselves. Now, I had eaten at this friend’s house before, and I knew that his mother’s cooking aspirations usually reached no higher than grabbing a box from the pantry, so I was hesitant to try some “from scratch” materials.

To say they were bad would be misleading. In her own misguided way, she had managed to make sweet, juicy peaches, delectable strawberries and rosy apples taste uniformly like tomatoes. She had somehow managed to coax this distinct flavor into everything from the raspberry jam to the green beans. I think that by itself deserved some kind of reward, just not my appetite.

Since then, I have displayed a great hesitancy toward anything “homemade.” It’s not that I doubt anyone’s abilities; I just value my own taste buds more.

This brings us to the time my girlfriend and her roommate made green-pepper jelly at my house. Knowing only the name of the recipe, I was hesitant and watched them with a kind of dread usually reserved for a car skidding down an icy road toward a group of nuns. Seriously, how good could green-pepper jelly be? Not once have I bitten into a green pepper and thought to myself, “Man, I could sure go for that slathered on a piece of toast in the morning!” I calmly sat and awaited the inevitable disaster.

I didn’t have to wait long. The mixture’s first boil was a bit finicky. Imagine the difference between a grenade before you pull the pin and after and you’ll start to get an idea. That’s no joke.

I watched the thing for minutes, anticipating a sudden change of color or even some bubbling. I grew bored and began to walk away when it erupted like Vesuvius, showering my kitchen with a quarter-inch of hot, viscous jelly.

Unluckily, I was uninjured. Now I had to help clean. The jelly cooled fast and cooled sticky, leaving everything with a firm, adhesive armor that budged with no less than forty minutes of intense, sweaty scrubbing. Even a day after, you would place a foot down and find it stuck fast to the linoleum.

Surprisingly, the jelly was actually amazingly delectable. Put it on a cracker with a little cream cheese and it’s a worthy finger food, up there with chocolate-covered pretzels and deep-fried cheese curds.

Just don’t try to give me any kind of tomato-fruit hybrids. Seriously.

#1.883588:3180229316.jpg:Andrews, Danny (fun).jpg:Danny Andrews, A Geek Gabs: