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Strawberry Preserves and Dishwashing Detergent: A Cautionary Tale

Living through a pandemic is a curious thing. Living in one of the hardest hit zip codes during said pandemic feels like being trapped on an endless roller coaster ride of fear, despair and rare bursts of normalcy.

Some days it’s just business as usual and to that end I’ve been working round the clock on projects for my various clients and stories for my various outlets. So much so that I’ve all but neglected this blog.

I’ve also been baking a lot (bread! pound cakes! kokosh cake!) and making batches of our favorite comfort foods including jelly and preserves.

Last Thursday I hulled several pints of strawberries. It’s a complicated thing to get groceries these days, much less strawberries just smushed enough so that they were screaming to be jellied, but I scored several containers. I washed them and chopped them and lovingly prepared them so I could make preserves. Everything was measured and perfect. I basked in the combined smell of freshly squeezed and zested lemons and glorious strawberries. And then I zoned out as I went old-school and stirred a heavy pot until I had a bubbling pot full of preserves.

I guess I zoned out a bit too much. Since part of me was trying to reclaim  efficiency I decided to immediately wash the pot instead of letting it soak. And so I squeezed some dishwashing detergent into the pot. The only problem is that the preserves were still inside the pot, and I was left with a blueish purple splotch in the midst of all that tasty cooked fruit.


Though I realized my mistake immediately, the preserves were ruined. And before you asked, yes. I immediately scooped out the soapy parts and then tasted it. Incidentally, I do not recommend tasting soapy preserves.

Anyway. There’s a point to all of this. As stressed as we all are right now, it’s important to find even tiny ways to escape. Making preserves is one of mine, but I let the stress of my day and life right now bleed into my meditation on fruit. While we can’t escape the realities of life right now, maybe we can give ourselves permission to escape for a bit, be it with plants, preserves or painting.

I do so much by rote at the best of times, we all do. But for me at least, I’d like to take moments to enjoy small moments. Everyone keeps talking about the new normal, I’d like to reclaim the normalcy, even if it’s in seemingly mundane tasks such as stirring preserves or washing dishes.

P.S. The next round of preserves were absolutely perfect.





Photo by Markus Spiske