Jam making in the Fifties - Scottish nostalgia


13 June 2016
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Bob McMillan recalls the sights and sounds that he enjoyed as a child when it was jam-making time at home.

Bob McMillan recalls the sights and sounds that he enjoyed as a child when it was jam-making time at home.

I was brought up in a single-end, a house with just one room, and so you were never far from anything else in the house. Mum, like many housewives who’d come through the war, used to make jam with fruit which we’d collected by the roadside or which was being sold off cheap as it had gone soft. Naturally I’d dodge the preparatory work of cleaning and chopping the fruit but I always knew when to turn up to get a taste of the lovely, tasty scum that had to be scooped out of the big pot every so often. Likewise when mum had to test its ‘set-ability’ before it was put into jars, I’d be there!

As I said, it was a small house, by modern standards anyway, and if Mum was making bramble or raspberry jelly, the ‘jelly bag’ could only be hung up at night or otherwise I’d almost certainly knock it over! Two chairs from the dining table were turned back to back and the ‘jelly bag’ hung from a brush handle that was across the backs of the chairs. Below the bag sat a basin or a pot to catch the liquid as it dripped through the mesh of the bag leaving the fruit pulp behind.

I’d be in bed a mere few feet away and the slow ‘plop… plop… plop…’ used to keep me awake for hours. How my poor parents slept through it, I don’t know! Needless to say I was happy to partake of the final product and so was obliged to make the greaseproof paper covers for the jars (unless the metal lid had been kept) and to write the labels with the type of jam and the date it was made.

(Image copyright Tuck DB Postcards)