Annie’s Msobo Jam

Steve Reed visited SA from Aussie. He’s a Vrystaat boykie, mainly Bethlehem and was the mayor of Clarens – the first son actually – so was on a visit home.

Him: When visiting my bro in Johannesburg we had plenty of jams and preserves all from ‘Annies Kitchen’ in Harrismith. Wouldn’t be the famous Ann Euthimiou from Harries, would it?

– Annie’s Jams from Nesshurst –

Me: No, not the gorgeous young Annie the Greek, another Annie from Harrismith, a contemporary of my gran – who was also Annie.

Her grandson Leon Strachan was one year ahead of me at Harrismith se Hoerskool. Lived on a farm, but his gran lived next door to us in town. He hopped over the fence one day ca.1965 to come and moer me for my insults. He was giving me a good and well-deserved whipping when younger sister Sheila came to my rescue, jumping on his back and beating him wif a bamboo, putting him to flight.

A first-class fella, he has written four books about Harrismith. I have one, Sheila has loaned me two more, and I have borrowed the fourth from Leon himself. He and his wife Elsa farm on Nesshurst, south of Harrismith on the Natal border. He grows and harvests black nightshade (nastergal – Solanum nigrum) and makes that mauve jam with black berries we called masawba – more correctly umsobo or sobosobo. They also make lots of other jams ‘in season.’

They branded it ‘Annie’s’ after his rooinek gran. Like me he had an Afrikaans side Strachan that originated in Scotland, and an Engelse side Davie. ‘Twas his rockspider gran Strachan what lived next door to us.

This info from the defunct website:

Op Nesshurst met sy allemintige dam groei en besproei Leon en Elsa Strachan nastergal wat hulle in die plaasfabriek inmaak om die wyd-bekende Annie’s konfyte met die veelkleurige etiket met twee tarentale op te maak. Jare lank reeds sien ‘n mens nou oral in die land die bekende flessies met nastergal en tot soveel as twintig ander soorte konfyt. Die beroemde Annie’s konfyte van Nesshurst. Nastergal (Solanum nigrum) dra bossies klein, ronde bessies wat donkerpers is wanneer hulle ryp is.

My translation: Leon and Elsa Strachan make lovely jams (American: jellies) on their farm Nesshurst near the Free State / KwaZulu Natal border. Probably their most famous one uses Solanum nigrum berries, European black nightshade. Although parts of this plant can be toxic, the real deadly nightshade is a different plant. The good one’s berries are a dull, powdery, dark purple in bunches, the deadly one has single glossy black berries.

– Solanum nigrum – black nightshade – nastergal – umsobo –
strachan nesshurst museum
– the museum on Nesshurst – Leon in the hat –

Steve: Well it was blerrie lekker konfyt. And he obviously did not moer any significant amount of sense into you from what I have been able to observe since ca.1974. My eldest brother Doug (68) looks after his health, having had a couple of stents a few years ago. He cycles furiously (the Argus, the 96.4 or whatever long races are going) and golfs twice a week. His one weakness is for the blue cheese, crackers and Annie’s preserves, accompanied by bottomless refills of post-prandial brandy, port, or whatever other alcohol comes to hand. I spent seven nights with them and woke up with a headache on all seven mornings. He woke me up fresh as a daisy with heart-stopping strength coffee every day. Most mornings I was in an arrhythmic state as a result. He couldn’t understand what the hell was wrong with me.


Harrismith se Hoerskool – Harrismith High School

moer – thump; but when Steve said it: educate

Rooinek – English-speaking; Pommy; uitlander; often preceded by fokn

Engelse – English, but usually not from England; more ‘not Afrikaans’; Like when any new product or gadget impresses, someone might say admiringly/mockingly ‘Dis wonderlik wat die Engelse kan doen,’ even if the gadget was made in Sweden

blerrie lekker konfyt – bloody nice jam

Dis wonderlik wat die Engelse kan doen – this is a nifty new gadget


The pics of the museum on Nesshurst are from Harrismith’s best blog deoudehuizeyard.

3 thoughts on “Annie’s Msobo Jam

    • Look for Annie’s and Strachan and Nesshurst. They’ll probly tell you where they sell their jams.


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