You Go For So Long

Pink food makes me feel squinty.

It’s rained every day for over a week and though the temperature’s rising, so’s the mud. Yes, it’s Mud Season in Central New Jersey. Don your hip waders, Poor Impulsives! I’d hate for you to ruin your blue suede shoes.

That’s strawberry-rhubarb pie filling. Working up your own recipes for jarring is supposed to be very bad juju, fraught with perilous peril, unless you’ve been jarring since before you could tie your own apron strings. Thing is: sometimes you can go from book to book to book and find recipes filled with crap you’re not interested in eating; such was the case with rhubarb pie filling. I was not at all interested in including thickeners other than sugars, since I couldn’t find anyone making a case that the additional ingredients affected the pH and I would prefer my jarred pie fillings not congeal in the jar. Dude: it’s hard to get gelatin out of a quart jar and I develop needless hostility for delicious fruit. No, I want to open a jar of fruit like peaches, toss that into a pie crust, open a jar of pie filling and pour that on top without a fight or unnerving SLOOSHing sounds. Then I want to roll out a top crust, crimp that bad boy and bake it until it sings to me because, dagnabbit, in January, pink pie might save your life. Back to my point: I found recipes for rhubarb preserves and strawberry preserves, both of which included only fruit and sugar, that’s it. So I macerated the strawberries, macerated the rhubarb, cooked them a little, put a tablespoon of lemon juice in each jar, and poured in gently simmered fruit. The jars processed for half an hour, which seemed sensible. The flip side of working up a recipe is that I have to be prepared to accept it if I’ve fucked up. So okay: if I open a jar and the pink pie filling’s turned a startling fuzzy blue I have no one to blame but myself. If it’s tasty, though, I shall be impossible to live with.

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