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 calls it sunshine in a jar. Whatever berries we cannot eat up, Mother and the girls in the kitchen make into jam or jelly for us to use in the winter. One time Mother could not find her favorite spoon for stirring the hot jam. I found it for her. It was hidden under a soiled apron in the corner. I am good at finding things. Most of the fresh berries do get eaten up in pies or just by themselves but the bruised ones or the left over ones are cooked. We all love to smell the jars when they are unsealed in the winter. When I smell the strawberry preserves, I remember how the berries smelled when I accidentally squished them with my bare feet in the patch under the hot sun. My toes were colored dark pink for a long time.
Jams have the pulp of the fruit without skins or pits. But jelly has the strained juices of simmered fruit without any pulp. Preserves have large chunks of fruit and “conserves” are a mix of fruit, nuts and raisins. I like jelly the best because I don’t have to chew so much. It just slides around my mouth on top of the bread. The colors of the different jellies are so very beautiful. My favorite one is elderberry. It is a very deep purple…just like the berries. Elderberries usually grow too tall for me to pick by myself. I help to pluck them off the stems once the taller children hand them to me in a basket. It takes a long time. They grow in a cluster and the flower before the fruit forms looks like Queen Ann’s lace. Josh told me that they are ripe by the end of August. That is when his birthday is. Brent’s birthday is in May. Maybe I can go to their parties this year.