"Fired a with housewifely wish to see her storeroom stocked with homemade preserves, she undertook to put up her own currant jelly. John was requested to order home a dozen or so of little pots and an extra quantity of sugar, for their own currants were ripe and were to be attended to at once... Home came four dozen delightful little pots, half a barrel of sugar, and a small boy to pick the currants for her.
With her pretty hair tucked into a little cap, arms bared to the elbow, and a checked apron which had a coquettish look in spite of the bib, the young housewife fell to work, feeling no doubts about her success... She did her best, she asked advice of Mrs. Cornelius, she racked her brain to remember what Hannah did that she left undone, she reboiled, resugared, and restrained, but that dreadful stuff wouldn't `jell'.
She longed to run home, bib and all, and ask Mother to lend her a hand, but John and she had agreed that they would never annoy anyone with their private worries, experiments, or quarrels. They had laughed over that last word as if the idea it suggested was a most preposterous one, but they had held to their resolve, and whenever they could get on without help they did so, and no one interfered, for Mrs. March had advised the plan. So Meg wrestled alone with the refractory sweetmeats all that hot summer day, and at five o'clock sat down in her topsy-turvey kitchen, wrung her bedaubed hands, lifted up her voice and wept."
- Little Women
It can do that to you, jelly. That syrupy stuff clinging tenaciously to every pot, spoon, counter, doorknob. Gelling everyplace except in jars. I tend to be a bit over-confident and underestimate how much skill and time a job takes. Jelly making was one of those jobs.
In the end we had some crab apple jelly and some crab apple syrup. I was a bit dscouraged until I spoke with the landlord. He asked which trees we used. Turned out one of them was not "a proper crab" after all but some unbelievably tiny little apples. That same day I came upon a garden with rows of tomatoes - every last one leggy, nearly leafless, and tall and full of clusters of tiny tomatoes. Just like ours. So the second lesson of the week was that I had been expecting an American results from British produce. (which is wonderful in it's own way, just different)
We learn and we learn about all sorts of things we didn't expect to learn about. So life, isn't it?