Boiling Out the Bitter

Grapefruit JamI sit here in my apron and listen to the tinny pings of jam set from the distance of my kitchen; I am asking myself, “What exactly am I trying to preserve?”

Yesterday it was making dill pickles with novelty cucumbers; today grapefruit jam slightly improvised and candied peel. Breaking down the ruby grapefruits left me staring at my acid wrinkled fingers and thinking of my grandmother and her mother and her mother. I lost count when adding mounds of measured sugar, imagining what my mother was feeling at that. precise. moment. Placing a test plate in the freezer too late, I carefully estimated how long it will take us to consume the five quarts of chocolate chip ice cream sitting on the top shelf. While pouring the molten lumpy liquid into jars, I concluded that this must be what nectar is like for hummingbirds.

Preserving fruits almost always includes stripping, boiling, detaching, clipping, and trimming away the unwanted parts, then combining everything else together with endless amounts of sugar in a pot that isn’t too important. Boiling the bitter out of grapefruit has been a difficult and complex exercise. I only hope that it yields a product as sweet as the process.



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