Jelly jubilation: my culinary celebration

I’m just way too excited about this. I know I am. But I don’t care.

Week before last I finally got me some mayhaw jelly. The morning after I obtained it, I popped the lid off one of the little jars that contain that luminescent concoction, sat down at the table, and liberally schmeared the ruby-tinged goodness all over my biscuit. (And, yes, “schmear” is a real word and I love it – almost as much as I love mayhaw jelly.)

Ahhhh. Sweet translucent paradise.

If you are a mayhaw jelly aficionado, too, you probably know that last year’s crop suffered from a late frost, so our beloved condiment was hard to come by. This year, though, I made sure I got the jump on things and procured three jars fresh off the cooktop. Truth be told, they’ll probably last me only a couple of months.

But never fear. I also bought six other offerings. In the jelly category: blackberry, cherry, white grape and peach. In the jam grouping: kiwi. And in the preserve category: pear. That, added to my mayhaw stash, should last me a while.

Procuring some of these flavors is a real adventure. I’ve never had peach jelly, though I grew up by a peach orchard (we just had preserves). Didn’t have blackberry either, though I’ve consumed many blackberry cobblers made from personally picked fruit. Cherry falls into that class as well. And kiwi – can you even believe?

Then there are the pear preserves. Now, those things have some real memories from my childhood. Ma and Papa had a huge tree with the most mellow pears in the world. Both Ma and Mama used them wondrously in their personal takes on preserves. Later on, Daddy planted pear trees in our own back yard, and the tale continued.

But where did all this cornucopia of current goodness come from?

Allow me to introduce you to Vicky Douglas, producer of Vicky’s Jelly, based in Winnfield. She makes these shimmering creations. The entire list encompasses 22 varieties.

I met her earlier this spring when I attended the Jonquil Jubilee in Gibsland. From there, I came home with two treasures – white grape and muscadine jelly. And, pardon the mixed fruit here, but I went bananas over the white grape.

So when I my supply was depleted, I dutifully called the number printed on the jelly lid and – presto – Vicki and I met in Jonesboro, and the rest is becoming history as I chow down. I even placed orders for some friends and brought back enjoyment in a jar for them as well.

Before I go further, let me also say that multiple area vendors supply a nice range of similar products, and I plan to purchase some of those in the near future. For example, in Ruston there’s Mitcham Farms Peach Store, which includes not only peach-influenced products, but many additional options. I’ve got my eye on some whole fig preserves.

Then there’s the Screamin’ Owl Salsa and Jellies made by the OWL Center in Dubach, local fruit and vegetable stands, and more.

But back to my much-loved jars of mayhaw. I can’t go before I wax a bit more eloquent about this delicacy.

Imagine you’re cradling a jar of mayhaw jelly in your hands. Hold it up to the light, and behold: It’s the shade of sunsets over bayous and of whispered secrets shared on front porches. Dip your spoon into the jar. The jelly clings, a symphony of flavors waiting to burst forth. Its soft coral notes dance on your tongue – a crescendo of sweet and tart, like a Louisiana fiddle tune echoing across hills.

For me, it’s the color of enchantment.

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Thomas FieldsThomas “Tuffy” Fields is an author and regular contributor to The Gazette. He can …

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