Yesterday we had fajitas for dinner. I dutifully got out some sirloin steaks, sweated down some peppers and onions, mashmashmashed my lone, sad avocado (but not so sad that it wasn’t still green and delicious). I grated up some cheese. And I got the last jar of last fall’s salsa off the shelf. The. Last. Jar. The last jar. The very laaaaaast jar.
WHY OH WHY DIDN’T I MAKE MORE?
I’ve been sorting through my mason jars this week. There are adorable little half-half pints. There are half pints of various vintage with checkered embossed glass or evolving images of peaches and cherries and other summer fruits. There are round side and flat-sided pints. There are about 15 heights and diameters of quart. There are bigger Gem jars – maybe a quart and a half or even two. There are regular mouth and wide mouth and Gem mouth size. There are even a dozen or more glass lid jars that need the rubber gasket. There are the antique blue-glass vintage and the contemporary ones I bought last summer. There are some jars that came full of spices and are perfectly sized to be refilled with summer herbs – or blends. There are even a few growler bottles with the swing-flip seal. Zounds, there are jars. So many jars. SO many.
My goal was to sort them into sizes and store them with their same-sized friends. In my kitchen, I keep formerly-commercial jars that all have the same size lid (from salsa and honey and a few kinds of nut butter). I use those for left-overs. Some of the tons of my meant-for-preserving jars get used over the course of the year for dry goods, mixing sourdough starter, storing marbles or coralling makeup brushes, pens and christmas ornment hooks. But they get used. There is a circulation system, for sure.
When we moved from the Great White East, my gentleman associate said that we shouldn’t move all the bottles we had, because I would never fill them all. Wait, what?? Challenge accepted. As soon as we settled, the next summer, I canned every fruit and vegetable I could get my mitts on. There were jams and jellies, canned peaches and roasted strawberries and vanilla cherries. There were sweet pickles and sour pickles and mustard pickles. Tomato sauce and pizza sauce and just canned whole tomatoes. There were sweet pickled beets and cauliflower and onions. BBQ sauce and apple sauce. Peach butter and pear butter and apricot butter. Syrups and shrubs. There was even the unfortunate mushroom ketchup and Chinese plum sauce experiments. But I filled the jars – all of them. We gave jars away for coaches gifts and teacher’s gifts. I gave Pickled Italian vegetables to my cousins. I gave fig jam to my uncle. And then, I started *really* amassing jars.
There’s a description of what is enough wherein someone suggests a number, and asks if that is a lot of money. Is $500? $10, 000? If $10, 000 is a lot, then is $8, 000 not a lot? Is $9,500? Eventually, according to the story, there is a single dollar that separates a lot from not a lot.
I’m not sure what the number is that separates a lot from not a lot of jars, but I’m pretty sure I’m looking at it in the rearview mirror.
I don’t know if I’d ever feel like there was enough Salsa or Tomato sauce or Passata. But at least I know I have enough jars to try and figure it out.