The journey begins, with a glimpse, through the kitchen window, of golden dust shimmering in sunlight, a phantom shadow darting through the air.
Hive-bound, the soaring bee dips and kisses the blue-hued flowers once more. Life blossoms with the promise of fruits and grains to come.
Auriferous, gilt-laden with pollen.
Honey. Nectar. Food for the common good. Alchemy.
Sweetness dwells in the honeycomb, high up in trees or resting in sunken hollows of the Earth.
A drop of honey calms that antediluvian craving, awoken by mother’s milk.
And now the jar, with its promise of stingless taste, calls to the wooden spoon, the knife, the bowl, the pan set simmering over the flame.
Heal the wounds, light the nights, appease the deep hungers.
Sip … the mead
Drizzle… the baklava
Lick … the spoon
Sweeten … the tea
Gargantuan, these gifts of the tiny bee. Wisely, our ancestors embraced honey’s life-giving essence.
But now comes the augury, the foretelling.
In blindness and in greed, fueled by mammon, in the careless chaos of asphalt and cement, neon and trash, the desert looms. Bees and honey, entombed forever like museum fossils in amber. Lost forever. Perhaps.
So clasp the gold and cherish it. Like King Midas, hold it, hoard it, hallow it. Most of all, relearn its power, its sacred nature.
Take the wooden spoon and begin …
4 lbs. fresh or frozen blueberries
2 ½ cups light-flavored honey
1 T. fresh-squeezed lemon juice
Wash and pick through the fresh blueberries, taking out any that are rotten, moldy, or greenish and unripe. All of the berries should be firm and ripe. If using frozen berries, you may skip this step.
Mix berries with honey in a large stainless steel bowl; let sit 2 hours, covered with a clean towel.
Place honey-berry mixture and lemon juice in a stainless-steel pot. Bring to a boil over medium heat; boil 30 minutes, scraping sides of pot and stirring bottom as you go. The berries will burst and the jam will thicken as it cooks. Taste the mixture at this point; add more honey if you want sweeter jam. Once the jam “sheets” of the back of a spoon, it is done.
While the jam is boiling, put a separate large pot of boiling water on another burner, bring to a boil and sterilize 8 cups worth of canning jars, lids, and rings by boiling them in the water for 10 minutes. You might prefer to use a canning rack to lower and remove the jars from the hot-water bath.
Ladle jam into sterilized jars; leave at least ½- inch of space at the top. Put the top and ring on the jars and close, tight but not too tight.
Place closed jars in the pot of boiling water — be sure jars are covered by the boiling water. Boil for 10 minutes. When done, place jars on a towel-covered counter. Each jar should ding, making an airtight seal. Refrigerate any jar that doesn’t seal and eat it right away. A sealed jar should be good for at least a year in the cupboard.
I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honeybee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.
~~William Butler Yeats~~
The earth resides in the food we eat … and therefore in us.
© 2011 C. Bertelsen