Strawberries in the Desert

Story telling from Australia

Go Girls!

We’ve been making jam.


We made the papers too, as you can see.



What smiling happy faces. How proud we all look! A small group of us from the Sydney City Branch of the Country Women’s Association produced almost two thousand jars of jam for the Christmas markets – all of it bottled, labelled and ready to be sold for charity.

And I guarantee that some of us – no, all of us – looked like this at times.


We all faced moments when things didn’t go to plan. My own low point came when a batch of ‘Taste of Christmas’ pumpkin jam got rejected.

We sat in the labelling room last month, tasting early batches of jam to make sure they were up to standard. We held jars up to the light to make sure they were correctly filled; we cleaned and wiped them to ensure there was no spillage – drips can spoil and turn the outside of the jar mouldy – and we turned jars upside down to check for consistency.

‘This one’s runny.’

I watched liquid trickle inside a jar of pumpkin jam – my pumpkin jam – and my heart beat a little faster.

‘And this one.’

‘Yep, this one too.’

Damn it! There was no denying it was runny, and I knew it too. Even as I’d bottled that particular batch I knew it didn’t look thick enough but it was late, I was tired and I’d done exactly as the recipe said so it should have worked. Only it didn’t.

An entire batch of pumpkin jam was set aside and I heaved the carton back into the boot of the car, feeling deflated and dejected. Rejected! No one likes rejection.

Rejection hurts. Facing the truth hurts.

But guess what? Being left out hurts even more. I wanted to be on that stall with the rest of the CWA ‘jammers’ holding my head high, so I went home and I emptied all the jars. I cleaned and sterilized them and I poured boiling water on the lids. I set my beaten old jam pan on the stove and I got to work, improving on the substandard product I never should have submitted in the first place.

And thank goodness someone pulled me up on that less than perfect batch of jam, because at the Christmas markets yesterday – in spite of teeming rain – people bought up big, knowing they could trust the CWA to produce a quality product.



I bought up big myself too, eager to sample jams, chutneys, pickles and relishes made by Jess, Steph, Sil, Alix, Kat, Gabrielle, Merna, Cheryl, Liz, Jodi and Jessica.

And instead of trying to hide when someone reached for a jar of ‘Taste of Christmas’ I smiled and said, ‘I think you’ll enjoy that.’


Thanks to Kat for taking the pic of Sil, Merna, me, Lana and Annie – before the rain!

13 comments on “Go Girls!

  1. wendylockyer
    December 15, 2016

    Well done all of you! A perfect example of teamwork. Wish I could be there to have a taste.


  2. debhuntwasinbrokenhill
    December 15, 2016

    Thanks sis, hope I don’t get any complaints now about the Pumpkin Jam!! x


  3. cathmarriott
    December 15, 2016

    Great job, you girls! way to go.
    Have had a go for home use with the heavily laden tree of cherry plums at making jelly. Had to add a little lemon juice to help with the pectin but it set and it has a rich beautiful colour to use on our Christmas meal. I found an old Harrington Square that I had bought for the birth of Catherine and she is now – well over 30 – so that’s a pretty good effort for a jelly making attempt. Will send you a jar Deb – or alternatively you could come down and get one!


  4. debhuntwasinbrokenhill
    December 15, 2016

    Oh how I’d love to come and browse in your fabulous orchard Cath! We’ll have to swap jars at some point, love the sound of your cherry plums xx


  5. Kristal Reynolds
    December 15, 2016

    Lovely article Deb! I was thinking of all of you yesterday and wishing I could have been there. I truly miss all your lovely faces 🙂


  6. Mala Burt
    December 15, 2016

    Would you share your Taste of Christmas recipe?


    • debhuntwasinbrokenhill
      December 16, 2016

      Hi Mala happy to share the recipe which came from our president, jam maker extraordinaire Silvana. On the road to the south coast right now so will post it when we get back next week. Great way to use excess pumpkin and works on toast or with cheese too!


      • Mala Burt
        December 16, 2016

        Thanks. I’ll be sorry I pitched the Halloween pumpkin. I suspect it might also work with butternut squash.


  7. Jack Burke
    December 19, 2016

    Deb, how on earth do you find the time. I take my hat off to all of you. Well done.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. bkpyett
    December 20, 2016

    I do admire your patience, Deb! I bought some CWA jam locally and you’re right, it’s always good!


  9. debhuntwasinbrokenhill
    December 23, 2016

    I’m stocked up for the next few months now! Enjoy your jam Barbara and Merry Christmas


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This entry was posted on December 15, 2016 by and tagged , , , , , .

I'm a writer based in Australia with a passion for gardening, remote places and people with a story to tell.

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