May I Borrow a Cup of Sugar?

by John C. Westervelt

Early in our marriage, Nelda received a recipe from her friend, Marilyn Vogt, for freezer peach jam. I came to expect this jam for my toast each morning. The first summer after becoming a widower sixteen years ago, I looked through Neldaís recipe box and found the card for Marilynís peach jam.

Each summer since, I have watched for the arrival of tree-ripened peaches from Porter, Oklahoma or Arkansas at the grocery store. I leave the peaches out on newspapers on my utility counter for several days to soften. The aroma of ripening peaches conjures up memories of climbing my grandmotherís peach tree as a boy in search of a ripe peach.

On a recent July afternoon, I had mixed 11 cups of pureed peaches, Sure-Jell, Fruit Fresh, and lemon juice in a Revere eight-quart stockpot before measuring 10 cups of sugar. As luck would have it, I was one cup of sugar short.

My first thought was, "Iíll run to the store." With potatoes already baking in the oven for supper, I could see there was not time. So I went next door to Connieís and asked, "May I borrow a cup of sugar?"

Connie replied, "Sure, come in and fill your cup."

As I stood over the stove stirring the mixture, waiting for it to come to a rolling boil, more memories of my boyhood filled my mind. In my neighborhood in Oklahoma City in the 1930s, all meals were prepared at home. Often, Mother would say, "John, ask Mrs. Kilpatrick if we can borrow a cup of sugar." Or it might have been a cup of flour or an egg.

When I was a boy, the unwritten rule was to return the cup of sugar in a few days. To confirm this rule, I asked my brother Wallace. He, in his direct manner, said, "We didnít bum it; we borrowed it and returned it."

Iím sure that Connie thinks of her cup of sugar as a gift. As I left her house, I had the feeling that she had as much pleasure in the giving as I did in the receiving.

Iíll share Marilynís recipe so you can enjoy a jam that tastes as good all year long as a tree-ripened peach in July.

Marilynís Peach Jam

Set the peaches out on the counter. As they turn soft, move them to the refrigerator while waiting for the rest to soften.

Let four peaches set in boiling water while removing the skins of the first four. Place the hot peaches in a pan with cold running water while rubbing off the skin with rough rubber gloves. After all the peaches are peeled, remove the seeds, and grind the peaches with a food processor.

11 cups of ground peaches (32 smallish peaches, about 9 pounds)

10 cups of sugar

1 Tablespoon Fruit Fresh

Juice of one lemon or 1/3 cup of lemon juice

2 or 3 packages of Sure-Jell (I use two for runny jam.)

Mix together. Stir while bringing to a rolling boil. Watch the pot to prevent boiling over. This quantity, when boiling, nearly fills an 8-quart pan.

Let set for 24 hours, then put in containers to freeze.

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