Last week, I was sitting in a pie shop in Brooklyn eating an apple and salted caramel slice of heaven. I was down to the last bite. I ate it. And I tasted memories of my grandma. I tasted pineapple jam.
I have such fond memories of spending days with my grandma, playing cards and hand sewing teddy bears. The days were much quieter and slower with her. I would hear the clock ticking in the back ground and smell the cows tongue on the stove, being boiled for lunch. For morning tea, grandma would put on the kettle and serve up a piece of white bread smothered in butter and topped with pineapple jam. We would sit there in mounds of silence, sipping and chewing while looking out the side window of the house. I would be smiling. White bread. I was never allowed white bread at home, only wholemeal or some sort of gluten free variety. But this white bread, it was so soft and malleable. I would pinch it and it would stick together. I always ate the crust. Pineapple jam. So sugary and sweet. Sometimes it came out of a golden circle can and sometimes it had been made by grandma and spiked with pine melon - a wild grown melon found only sometimes in certain paddocks and on certain peoples farms. It was all so simple. All so yummy. All so very grandma.
I wanted to make pineapple jam. Tasting it in the pie shop brought back all of these lovely memories and a flavour that I thought I had long forgotten. It was strange. The pie was apple and salted caramel after all. But for some reason, my brain told my taste buds that they tasted pineapple jam - so I savored it. Who makes pineapple jam anyway? Besides grandmas and maybe people in Costa Rica with way too many pineapples. I started to brain storm. I wouldn't just make pineapple jam, I would make it special. I would add something else to it, maybe a spice, maybe another fruit, maybe some sort of healthy variation to cane sugar. I would make the jam and then put it into something. Jam drops? Bakewell tart? Some sort of rolly polly jam sponge? I would style it. With flowers and vases and pieces of grandmas vintage tea cups and fabric. But then something stopped me. Something made me want to slow it all down and simplify. Why not just pineapple jam? On it's own, as it is. The way grandma was and the way grandma used to serve it. Simple.
Recently, I have found myself naturally searching for a little piece of grandma within myself. I have felt the need to simplify. My grandma was a strong woman. She lived alone for the last 30 years of her life, will power through the roof, happy to just get by and as independent as ever. She wore simple clothes, ate simple food and lived a simple life. She held onto special belongings and cherished them, for years. She made things, from scratch. She was never, ever in a rush. And there is a certain beauty that I find in all of that.
Although I enjoy the parts of life that are slow and simplified, I do enjoy find enjoyment the complicated, moving, busy times full of people and places and adventures too. But the idea of simplifying, of keeping things minimal, cherishing quality over quantity, gathering, making, enjoying slow traditional rituals and stripping things down to their natural, bare beauty. That, that is what I want to take from memories of my grandma.
Pineapple jam doesn't have to be made with cinnamon or rose water. It may taste great if it were, but why not let it be just pineapple? Why not just put it in a jar and enjoy looking at its simple beauty? Why not enjoy it for what and how it is and be content with just that.
So I made the jam. As I remembered. Without any pine melon, but with just pineapple, water and sugar. All local, all from Florida. And now I have it, sitting in lovely simple jars ready to be enjoyed as it is or how I want. Maybe from the spoon. Or maybe on a piece of white bread smothered with butter - for grandma and for old times sake.
prep time: 15 minutes
cook time: 1 hour 15 minutes
total time: 1 hour 30 minutes
yields: 2 medium sized jars full
1 large pineapple
1 cup water
2 cups sugar
2 medium sized jars
Remove the skin and core from the pineapple and cut into large pieces. Using a grater, grate the flesh into a medium sized bowl. You should end up with about 2 cups of pineapple, including the juice.
Place the pineapple and water in a small saucepan over medium low heat for about half an hour, or until the pineapple flesh is soft.
Add the sugar and stir on a high heat until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture begins to boil. Once boiling, turn the temperature down to a gentle simmer and leave to cook, without stirring, for 45-60 minutes, or until the mixture thickens. Keep an eye on it, especially towards the 45 minute mark. Every stove top and saucepan is different - you don't want it to burn! The mixture should end up thick with a jam like consistency (it may still be a little runny).
Place 2 medium sized jars in a 95C/200F oven for 10-15 minutes.
Pour jam into jars, cover with lids and store in the fridge for up to three months.