Mayhaw Jelly and Novel Crunch Time: Two Unrelated Things in a Single Post

A jar of mayhaw jelly

John ScalziFirst: as we recently did a survey of fancy jams here on Whatever, a reader (who I will let self-identify if they wish in the comments) sent along a type of jelly I had not heard of before: mayhaw jelly, “mayhaw” being a seasonal fruit in the South of the US, apparently ripening in May, or thereabouts. I and Athena have sampled the stuff and it’s quite tasty — “like a tarter strawberry” is how our northern palates have translated it. As noted previously, I had not known of mayhaw as a type of fruit (or tree) and I am delighted to still be discovering new flavors indigenous to these fine United States. Also, I can recommend mayhaw jelly (or at the very least this Cane River brand of it), and can assure you all we’ll be working through his jar of the stuff. Thank you to this reader for sending it along. It will definitely not go to waste.

Second: In other, entirely unrelated-to-jellies-and-jams news, we’re coming into crunch time for the novel I’m writing, so over the next few weeks I may be writing shorter and/or skipping days entirely around here. I realize that I say this every time I get into crunch time with a novel, and then often go on a massive post spree, because my brain doesn’t make sense and I am a doofus. But on the off chance I actually stay disciplined this time around, uh, yeah, see that first sentence of this paragraph again. The good news is there is a second contributor to the site now, and also there are a lot of Big Idea pieces for October, so even if I post less, you might not miss me.

Also, until the novel is done, I’m going to try to cut down on my news consumption. Theoretically, when I’m writing I avoid reading the new until the close of the business day; for the next several weeks I will actually attempt to implement this. Of course, the month before a presidential election is not a great time to try this, especially this presidential election. I am helped slightly by the fact that I have already planned to vote early and at the first opportunity, so after that point I can say that I’ve done my part and leave it up to the rest of you to do likewise.

I’m not going to try to hide from news entirely — that’s going to be impossible — but I am going to prioritize my brain cycles. I can focus on the novel, or I can focus on the election. The election will happen whether I focus on it or not; the novel, on the other hand, will not. Don’t worry; I’ll still be yelling at you all to vote, just like I’ve done all year long. But this diminishment of engagement of news might mean fewer topical posts from me until the novel is done. This may be a disappointment for some of you, but then again, people here rarely complain about cat and sunset posts.

So: Mayhaw jelly — pretty great; novel crunch time — also great, but a focus time for me, so be aware. And now you’re all caught up on the trivia of my life that I’m deciding to share right now in a public fashion!

— JS

18 Comments on “Mayhaw Jelly and Novel Crunch Time: Two Unrelated Things in a Single Post”

  1. Thanks for the tip on the jelly – sweet things that have a strong note of tartness are a favorite in our household (which may or may not reflect the personalities of the occupants), so that’s one to add to the shopping list.

    Good for you for engaging in good self-care by reducing your consumption of the news. I found that I was having full-blown anxiety attacks every time I’d look at the news, so I entered a complete news embargo about ten days ago. The anxiety is still there, but it’s not at a disabling level, if that makes sense. I expect to continue my embargo well into November.

    Speaking of November, I received my absentee ballot on September 18, completed it, signed the envelope, had my witness sign the envelope and add their address, and dropped it back in the mail on the same day. My state’s voter information website shows that my completed ballot was received at my county clerk’s office on September 21. So I have that going for me, which is nice.

    Take care of yourself. Which goes for all visitors to the site, not just the host.

  2. To more or less agree with the first commenter, I was guessing that novel crunch was a variety of peanut butter.

  3. I’m thinking that marionberries may be your jam as well, so to speak. Like a blackberry (especially to the eye) but usually a bit tarter. We have them out here in newly-extinguished Marion County, Oregon where they originated.

  4. Don’t know how likely you are to find this, but look for green fig jam. Not something you commonly find, but worth the search.

  5. I figure that there’ll be a lot of people doing the early voting thing right at the start (October 13 in Texas) so I’m planning to wait a week and vote on the 20th when there’ll be fewer crowds and less contagion risk.

  6. I, too, have vowed to cut down my news consumption. Since RBG died the news has just made me angry. After a few days I realized that anger was permeating my everyday interactions. That can’t be healthy. So I’ve cut way back. For a news junkie like myself it’s been hard, but I’ve gotten pretty low, and I didn’t watch a single talking head show this morning. I don’t know that I’ll be able to skip the debate, though. I know it will make me want to throw stuff at the tv, and it certainly won’t change my mind, but it is still the the Presidential debate.

  7. Numenaster, another Oregon berry I can’t get enough of is olallieberry, kind of a blackberry-raspberry-loganberry mix. (“Olallie” means berry in Chinook.) Mmm, olallieberry pie…

  8. @Numenaster – I encountered marionberries for the first time when I worked at OSF in Ashland, and as someone who grew up in the DC area in the 80s and 90s when the DC mayor was Marion Barry, there were many many jokes to be made…

  9. RBG’s death finally broke my husband and my news addiction. We have vowed not to read the news until after the election. We will soon get our ballots, we know what/who we are voting for, and after writing our congresspeople, there’s nothing more we can do at this point. And wow, now we have SO much more time for other things. It took cutting the cord entirely to realize how much it was actually taking up.

    Oddly, my husband (who is usually the worst about being addicted to the news) has been better about our vow than I have. I must admit, yesterday I snuck a tiny glance at something. Nope, still not worth it.

  10. It’s mayhaw jelly weekend, apparently – a friend and I went to the farmers market over the weekend specifically looking for it. It reminds her of her grandmother, who used to make it (as did my great grandmother.) I’m glad you liked it.

  11. I have not personally tried them, *but* if you can get your hands on fresh North American paw paw (which is not papaya) they are apparently internally a lot like custard apples, which are quite possibly my second favorite fruit. (custard apples are vaguely custardy, but I have no clue where the apple came from; they look like an extra-plump, more-alligator-y avocado on the outside, and are sort of… banana-fleshed? with smooth hard large-ish [almond-sized?] seeds within the flesh?)

    Anyway! It might not be your jam, so to speak, but if you spot them at a farmer’s market (North American paw paws look a bit like sugar mangoes), then grab some to try. They do not travel or keep well, unfortunately, so they’re most often a fruit you have to get “connections” to try, but if they really are like custard apples (which they’re related to), they’re worth trying…

  12. (I should note: there is no tart about a custard apple. There’s the slightly-funky tropical-fruit note which I find excessive in some papayas but which is very subdued in a custard apple and in most mangoes, and sweet, and smooth, and an amorphous yum that I cannot presently categorize. But not tart.)

  13. Mayhaw the (jam and jelly) force be with you.
    My pawpaws are ripening, as they do at this time of year. The flesh is custard-like in texture, the flavor sort of berry-kiwi with a musky tone.
    I have been “watching” network news mostly muted for about 4 years now, just in case they have a story I’m interested in. Currently really appreciating H. R. McMaster’s Battlegrounds, a clear-thinking assessment of our country’s real problems and how to approach them. Sounds like one of Marko Kloos’ titles, doesn’t it.

  14. I can’t recall having mayhaw, even though I’ve lived in the south all my life. At the same time, your post woke a memory in me of having Tanghulu (candied hawthorn) in China when I was there for work many many years ago.

  15. Wow, everyone wants to talk about the jelly rather than the novel….

    Anyhow, JS, which novel is this? What can you tell us about it?

  16. Thanks for this post! I grew up eating home-canned mayhaw jelly in southeast Texas and even thought about planting a tree here in Maryland, but didn’t. The last time I found some at a farmer’s market in Texas it was very thin tasting, like they hadn’t boiled down the juice enough. I’ll be looking for a jar of this brand to see if it lives up to my memories.