If you visit Sandwich, there's a very good chance you'll find yourself in a jam. And a very tasty one at that.
For more than thirty years, the folks at Green Briar Nature Center and Jam Kitchen have been teaching adults and children how to make jam. Name a fruit and they've probably made jam with it.
There's blueberry pineapple, autumn pear and apple, lemon peach ginger and nectarine plum. According to Mary Beers, Green Briar's director of education, a favorite for attendees is anything made with cranberry and another fruit (like cranberry apricot) or strawberry (by itself or mixed with another fruit like orange).
If you want to know what a pro likes, Beers's favorite is strawberry rhubarb. Although Mary doesn't teach the jam workshops now, of all the staff, she's taught jam making the longest.
The Green Briar staff teaches jam making year-round. Classes are offered for both adults and families. If you are signing up for the family workshop, it is for one adult and one child working together and the child must be at least 6-years-old.
"Family workshops offer opportunity for an adult and a child to have fun working together," Beer's said. "It is amazing how children open up with Grandma as they both prep their fruit." Parents with more than one child find the workshops to be the ideal opportunity for special one-on-one time.
Adults love the workshops too. Many people sign up for subsequent workshops once they've caught the jam-making bug. Socializing is as an important part of the workshop as the final product. Some ladies attendee about fourteen workshops a year!
The best part of attending a jam workshop? You get to take the actual fruits of your labor home. Each workshop costs $45 ($35 for Green Briar members) and you take home four to six (6 oz.) jars of jam. All materials for the workshops are provided. Workshops are on Wednesdays and Saturdays (times vary by season).
The jam workshops are held in the historic 1903 jam kitchen. When workshops aren't in session, the kitchen is operated as a "living museum". Recipes from the founder Ida Putnam are still used to this day and jams made in the kitchen are sold in the Green Briar gift shop.
The Green Briar staff also hosts private classes. According to Beers, they have taught jam-making to Red Hatters, church circles, office co-workers, Girl Scouts and book club members. They've even hosted a family celebrating the matriarch's 80th birthday. Private classes require six pots of jam cooking--with a maximum of 15 pots (20 people in the kitchen).
Although jam is the staple of the workshop schedule, you may find peachy sun salsa or yellow squash pickles here and there. But never jelly. "Too long and complicated a process," says Beers.
The Green Briar Nature Center & Jam Kitchen is at 6 Discovery Hill Road in East Sandwich. Visit their website here. Pick a jam to make from the jam kitchen workshop schedule here.