antique mason jar

Mary Beekman is a four-year-old ghost who resides in The Beekman Mansion, and considers Brent and Josh her “imaginary friends.” Follow Mary Beekman’s Diary each week to learn what it’s like to be a young child in early 19th century America.

Mother sent me to the cellar to fetch the last crock of strawberry jam. She reminds me that my legs are the youngest legs in the kitchen. She always keeps a count of the number of crocks we have stored from last summer in her household book. She even knows how many of each kind we have.  The cellar shelves are getting empty now. I was very eager to have some of that jam.  The spring has been cold and it seems we have not had many days of sun.  To taste a piece of last summer on my bread would be so good. Father said he would like some too.

When I carried it to her to open, she sighed and shook her head.  She showed me that there was something white growing on the top.  It looked fuzzy and I knew then that she would not let us eat it. If it is not fuzzy and is more gray, she will scrape it off the top and we can have some. It takes a long time to seal each crock and I was sorry she was disappointed.  My tongue was already practicing chasing the tiny seeds from between my teeth.  I know we will have more strawberries later in the summer but I so wanted some TODAY.

*Produce was preserved by a number of methods and much of it was stored in crocks and jars.  Instructions for sealing these vessels included a number of methods for sealing storage containers:  “Soak a split bladder and tie it tight over them (crocks).  In drying, it will shrink so as to be perfectly air tight”.  “Cover each tumbler with two rounds of white tissue paper, cut to fit exactly the inside of the glass.” ” Secure (jars and crocks) with paper dipped in brandy and a leather outer cover.”  Finally “cement on the covers (of stone jars) with composition of bees-wax and rosin melted together, and thickened with powdered brick dust.”

*Family Life in the 19th. Century America      James M. Volvo and Dorothy Denneen Volo

by Mary Beekman

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Sigh. . . wish I could hand Mary (or a little girl like her) a jar of jam. Of course, today's jam probably couldn't compete in taste, but it probably wouldn't kill you. Think I'll go to the refrig now, open it, and stare in worship.


Today I am making bread and butter pickles, to put on sandwiches with potato chips!!! ( with cheese and anything else I can find in here)