To be more accurate, the smell of cooking Jam. I could smell fruit simmering on the stove, in an old Aluminium preserving pan, which was a treasure, belonging to my Grandmother. It was huge, to accomodate the thousands of pounds of fruit stewed or simmered in it's vast interior.
Of course the thousands of pounds of fruit, were not all put into the pan together. There were peaches to be made into jam, should they be too 'smashed' or unsightly, to be preserved. Only the best looking fruit made it to the preserving jars, so they looked beautiful on display, in jars of large capacity. Were they Mason Jars? The screwtop lids were carefully washed, recycled, and the jars washed, and sterilised for the preserved fruit or jam. There were also jars, with glass lids, and rubber seals, which were clamped shut, with metal fasteners at each side of the jar. The rubber rings could be purchased at the local Variety Store, or Gocery/Hardware Store.
There were small self sealing tops, which were placed on top of the Jars, before the Screwtop lids were sealed down. 'Perfit Seals'? Small metal discs, with a rubber ring around the outer edge, which presumably the heat and vacuum, sealed. I remember my Grandmother bought them in packets, and carefully took them out, to use on the still~hot jars of fruit.
The Jam was usually capped with Cellophone tops, which were bought in bulk, and they were wet, as in dipped in water, before being placed over the jars of hot Jam, then fastened with rubber bands. Many jars of Jam, plum, apricot, peach, nectarine, blackberry & apple were 'put up'. Into the large Welsh Dresser, which lived out in our Porch, and was the home of the Preserves, throughout the Winter months. The cottage was too small to accommodate the large wooden Welsh Dresser, so it had to live out in the Porch. I remember it with awe. It was so beautiful. I wonder whatever became of it?
Then there were the Jellies, which were the more complicated 'Jams' made from the fruit. These were carefully dripped through muslin, which was tied, & suspended from a stick or wooden spoon, which was laid across a large bowl, so the juice could drip into the bowl. No touching and definitely NO squeezing was permitted, of the Muslin bag, or the resultant liquid would be cloudy. Clarity was of paramount importance, in the making of a good Jelly. I remember sometimes encountering old stockings used for Jelly Bags. Not Pantyhose, you note, as they were not invented then, back in the day!
If the season had been bountiful, we would have Blackberry Jelly in the Winter. Truly a taste to die for!! A luxury, of pure, rich, fruit filled flavour, the like of which will never be found today, unless there is some person out there, making the Jelly from pure Blackberries. If not, the Blackberries were mixed with Apples to make them go further, and a lesser conserve was the result. Still delicious, you understand but not the same richness of pure Blackberry.
Our Laundry room, which was then called the Washhouse, in my Grandparents' modest cottage, was the site used for the dripping of the muslin filled bags. It contained a large Copper, which had been the primary washing aid, until our Mother purchased a 'new fangled' Washing Machine. It had a mechanical wringer, which was truly a wonder, and resulted in the removal of the old clamped on wringer, between the two concrete tubs. There were two concrete wash tubs in the Washhouse, along with the copper.
The toilet was in a small alcove off the Washhouse, and so we passed the drippng Jellies on the way to the toilet. I suspect the bag was lightly squeezed now & then, by a passing child or two, just to see if anyone noticed!