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The Gift of Jam - Rat Ramblings [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Nicodemus

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The Gift of Jam [Jun. 16th, 2009|10:01 pm]
Nicodemus
I want to say at the outset that my grandparents are nice and well-meaning folks. As this tale progresses, you'll see why I mention this and don't want it to be overshadowed by subsequent revelations.

Over the years, Kit and I have made several batches of jam since that's something that we rather enjoy. (And I never tried it before she suggested it one time, though I've long been a jam eater. She gets credit for opening this culinary door for me.) We've shared jars here and there with family members. We have a fondness for expressing affection via food, I suppose.

So my grandparents recently sent back a box of jam jars. It contained 13 jars, of which we recognized about 5 as originating from us. Many of the others were definitely not ours since they were brands we haven't used. But it was nice of them to go out of their way to return the jars, something we didn't really expect. See, very considerate folks!

Also, within the box, were two jars that were not empty:


They'd sent a gift! But this gift really takes the jam-gift-giving tradition to a whole new level. Upon closer examination of the peeling, yellowed labels, you can see what I mean:


They are nice and well-meaning folks. I'm almost entirely certain they aren't out to poison us. But what should one think when one receives food from multiple decades in the past?

Poll #1416892 Jam Through the Ages

Thoughts on the Jam

Ye gods. What worries me is that if this is a gift, they must consider this "the good stuff."
5(11.9%)
This is your genetic line, buddy; brace yourself for your old age.
15(35.7%)
Now Jun '84 would've been okay but Jul '83? That's crazy talk!
5(11.9%)
Check out that rare two-story "a". Totally pre-Palmer.
4(9.5%)
Do you realize they've been planning this practical joke on you for over 20 years?
13(31.0%)

Symbolic Reaction

:P
8(18.6%)
XD
12(27.9%)
8|
1(2.3%)
(O.O)
17(39.5%)
D:
5(11.6%)

What Should I Do with It...

Eat it, ya wuss! C'mon, be a bacterial daredevil.
8(18.2%)
At least open the lid to see how high pressure buildup pops it.
15(34.1%)
Set it down very gently in the trash and back away.
5(11.4%)
Display it on the mantle as a proud trophy that just dares houseguests to comment on it.
9(20.5%)
Hide it in the attic as an heirloom for Timothy to uncover decades from now.
7(15.9%)

What Words to Employ When They Ask About Their Gift...

"Truly stunning"
7(16.3%)
"Jam jars are always useful"
7(16.3%)
"Inspiring" (of various emotions)
5(11.6%)
"Saving for the right time" (1988)
9(20.9%)
(Distract with a joke involving funny words:) "Weasel"
15(34.9%)
LinkReply

Comments:
[User Picture]From: nevermint
2009-06-17 05:23 am (UTC)
Just try it! If it does not taste good then ask for something different and tell the truth.
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[User Picture]From: mammallamadevil
2009-06-17 05:26 am (UTC)

I do have to say, my Aunt Correne has not done that...

she baked her own bread until she was in her late seventies and loves canning. Sadly, her eyesight has deteriorated to where she can't do those things anymore. I think it was just a bit of an error, have a good laugh, as I did, and discard those suckers...

going through my maternal grandmother's pantry in 1993 was truly an adventure. We won't discuss the garage in LiveJournal...

MLD

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[User Picture]From: harvardheinous
2009-06-17 06:25 am (UTC)
Hide the jars and send them to Timothy as a "gift" when he's your age... see what he says about them in his journal... and just pray he doesn't crack one open and give it a taste... : P
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[User Picture]From: jovino
2009-06-17 06:38 am (UTC)
You, are sheer genius!
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[User Picture]From: jovino
2009-06-17 06:37 am (UTC)
I'd totally try it. But I'm brave like that.

And this reminds me... we're out of jam. :(
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[User Picture]From: kigeni
2009-06-17 07:01 am (UTC)
I think you have just had an heirloom passed to you.

Keep it. Treasure it. Then, when you find the right people, pass it forward.

-Kigs
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[User Picture]From: orv
2009-06-17 04:25 pm (UTC)
I hear some families do this with fruitcake. My family is full of weirdos that actually eat the stuff.
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[User Picture]From: mothermonster
2009-06-17 06:24 pm (UTC)

fruitcake

Hey!! I make a great fruitcake and it always gets eaten up!! Our family actually has 2 different fruitcake recipes--both have stuff in them that Nic can't eat so we'll have to modify them somewhat, but they're good.
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[User Picture]From: orv
2009-06-18 06:48 pm (UTC)

Re: fruitcake

I never really tried it. I can't stand candied fruit, for some reason.
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[User Picture]From: renniefox
2009-06-17 07:39 am (UTC)
Wease...*SQUIRREL!*
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[User Picture]From: wildfox34
2009-06-17 08:22 am (UTC)
Dates on food really get to me. If I received food that was just about as old as I am, I wouldn't touch it with a 49 1/2 foot pole!
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[User Picture]From: twigmouse
2009-06-17 09:34 am (UTC)
Re-gift!! ;-)

1983 is a very good vintage. Jam is like wine, right?

On a side note, that jam is 8 months older than I am.
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[User Picture]From: pippinbear
2009-06-17 09:42 am (UTC)
I asked my mum, who is a trained and experienced catering person, and she says:

1) open it
2) look at it
3) sniff it
4) taste a tiny bit of it
5) decide: eat it, or throw it away. (of course, you can decide to throw it away before this stage!)

"If in doubt, chuck it out" is apparently what she was taught at college. In any case, no need to throw the jar away - if it's gone mouldy, empty the contents onto the compost heap (or down the toilet if you have no compost heap), wash and sterilise the jar, and reuse as normal. :)

Apparently it's entirely possible that 25-year-old jam could still be okay since jam has lots of sugar in it, although it'll probably be rather tasteless by now.
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[User Picture]From: porsupah
2009-06-17 11:46 am (UTC)
I'd have expected it to be in perfectly good condition - after all, if it had sprung a bacterial leak in the past 26 years, it'd be fairly obvious. ^_^;

Whether it'll be good or not, I'm not sure - it may be the flavors have become somewhat muted with time, but equally, perhaps it they've simply developed subtly, for a uniquely superior experience.
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[User Picture]From: brerandalopex
2009-06-17 12:38 pm (UTC)
[Brer] I'd agree with Pors and Pippin above. If it was sealed with the old wax seal method then it is highly likely to be sufficiently anoxic, and if the seal failed in some manner it will be patently obvious.

Most of the stuff that will grow on jelly is a mold of some sort and VERY visible. And most of THEM are probably completely harmless as long as you aren't inhaling spores (yes, I would be cautious how I open them). It's not much different from moldy fruit, and you get that at the market all the time...

Heck when we were kids we'd find jars of jelly that the seals had failed on all the time. You'd toss out the parts that had mold growing on them and eat it anyway. These weren't nearing 30 years old (more like 3 or 4 at best), but I think it's a question of extent of potential damage.

But those were different times, and if you don't NEED to eat 26 year old jam then why would you? I'd check it out just out of curiosity (maybe open it outdoors and away from the child-unit) but probably not chance it.
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[User Picture]From: shockwave77598
2009-06-17 01:45 pm (UTC)
It is very probably still good. I've had preserves from 10 years and it was no different than 1 year.
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[User Picture]From: sabercat
2009-06-17 04:45 pm (UTC)

regift!

I totally think a regift BACK to them in 3 years is entirely appropriate. It could be like a fruitcake... only better!
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[User Picture]From: captpackrat
2009-06-17 06:56 pm (UTC)
My grandmother was the same way. When my grandparents went on vacation, I went through and filled an entire garbage can with canned and frozen stuff from 20 years ago. The freezer was full of 1980's vintage black-eyed peas. The worst part was the canned soup. It was supposed to have a tomato base, but it was brown. I didn't even try to save the glass jars, I just carefully placed them in the garbage and packed bags of frozen peas around them.

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[User Picture]From: kinkyturtle
2009-06-17 09:04 pm (UTC)
Heehee, perfect icon choice. :}
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