The rhubarb, for example, was the woody, sour, summer kind. Five bags of it had been sitting in the freezer, when last November I decided to clear them out in one fell swoop, simmering them in a pan with sugar and a vanilla pod to make the most ridiculously gorgeous pink jam, far more wonderful than I'd ever have expected from beholding those thick, green chunks of the original vegetable.
The apple and blackberry jam, too, notable for it cost me absolutely nothing: the blackberries were foraged from hedgerows in the Yorkshire dales, the apples were windfalls from the tree overhanging our garden in Cambridge, and the sugar and jars were already sitting patiently in the cupboard.
The fig jam I am most proud of, for it arose when I came home from holiday to find one of Mum's colleagues had given her a huge tray of figs from his garden, yet she'd allowed them to almost rot, sitting in the fruit bowl. They were far too far gone to be edible, soft and squishy with fruit flies hovering eagerly around in droves, but I managed to rescue them with the aid of a bag of jam sugar, transforming them into the most incredible jam, a deep khaki green, flecked with crunchy seeds and chewy pieces of fig flesh, and possessing a rich, caramelly flavour. I only made a few jars, but with every mouthful I feel proud of myself for rescuing those sad fruits - true testament to both the transformative and economical power of preserving.