Amy, my sweetheart-lady friend, rises early for work. She is a Seattle Metro Bus driver. Almost every day her morning goes like this, wake up, heat water for coffee in a saucepan (we don't own a kettle), stand, watch water boil, make coffee and a peanut butter and jam tortilla roll-up, stick it in a ziplock bag now on its 3rd re-use, put on bus driving uniform, don insanely visible, construction-orange colored fleece jacket, get on a bicycle, vroom! I keep a cadre of four, six, and eight ounce jars of jam on the kitchen counter and tucked on the upper right part of my refrigerator. The jars are filled with the leftovers from each pot of jam I make; the bits of jam that weren't quite enough to fill a whole jar. The jam cools on the counter and I eat it in spoonfuls for dessert. This is part of the quality control process, especially if the jam sticks around for a couple days. By week two of a jam's life everything involved in the flavor has mellowed and melded.
So when Amy pulls out the blackberry prune jam with lemon basil for her morning peanut butter roll-up and leaves it on the counter I take the opportunity to check up on the flavor. I made the jam in August, but now I taste the steeped lemon basil in its subtle, full glory; a sweet herbal touch that on day two of the jam's life (the last time I tasted it) was only barely hinted at.
Amy's good at pulling out the jars I've forgotten about in the rush to make more jam. A lot of the jars are unlabeled. I'll remember what it is, I tell myself as I screw on an unlabeled lid and push the leftover jam to the back of the counter. And I usually do remember, but for those moments I am not there at 3:30 in the morning, Amy doesn't care. She opens the jars, sniffs to ascertain the flavor and places a few dollops on her peanut butter roll-up.