Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Adventures in Jam Making

I still haven't made salsa.

My garden is a complete wreck. I was supposed to clean it up today...However, the internet people were coming out, and so I made the mistake of beginning housework. My house is also a wreck...

I had received a half a brown paper sack of plums from Mom when I dropped the girls off with her Sunday (the nanny is gone to camp, so I had to enlist the backups...) On a completely sort of related note, my mom was a tad irritated to learn I forgot to bring her a bag of tomatoes, considering she spent an entire morning picking sand plums for me... Go figure.

Anyway, last night I had anticipated my plan to make plum jam & jelly. So, at 9:34 (as evidenced by the clock on my stove), after walking for an hour with my neighbor and helping my hubby with the new fire pit he built and moving old brick from an eyesore, and of course being on my feet at work all day, I decided to put the plums on to cook. Mom had instructed me to cook them, then just cover the pot and leave them to cool overnight...


As you can see, I felt the need to eat plums as I was sorting through them as they started to cook (my method was reaching in with my hand and stirring them around to find any leaves I missed...) Just FYI, I ate 3 wedges of cantaloupe yesterday, a sandwich baggy full of cherries, and then these plums. Do you think I got my daily fiber in?


Mom had promised I would just know when they were done. I guess she was right!

Then, this morning, as I decided to start the process, I got out my directions from the SureJell box...PANIC!!! I had covered the plums in water. It said to only had 1 1/2 cups...Oops.



I drained the water/juice mixture off through a tea towel placed in a large mixing bowl. This made about 16 cups of juice. I then got out my colander and began to pit my plums. I gotta confess, I was about to weep because I figured I'd wrecked the whole thing when I used too much water. After my mom had gone to the trouble of picking them for me...How ungrateful and irresponsible...I hate wasting food...Also, I will confess to irritation, because I've already made apricot jam, which I'm pretty sure is going to be too thick, although I haven't' opened one of the full jars I made, just sampled the leftover I'd placed in a bowl. Plus, I literally have 6 gallon bags of pureed tomatoes in my fridge with tons of peppers also frozen, waiting until I have time to assemble salsa...

I was feeling very stressed as I jammed that pestle into the colander, pitting my plums. I tried venting my irritation on those poor little plums...It wasn't working. It was time for desperate measures!

Of course I called my mom!

It turns out she had TOLD me to cover the plums, so I could have more juice for jelly! See! I don't move ahead impulsively! I remember the instructions given to me by my wise mother!


So, since I'm such an uber prepared cook, and never proceed half cocked, without proper supplies, and certainly not without proper knowledge of what to do, I decided to make jam. Especially since I only had one box of pectin, and my friend Inga had always told me I didn't need pectin to make jam. I dumped in about 10 cups of crushed plums...

Now, remember, I have no internet access at this point. My sister Dawn, who is the librarian and therefore the giver of all knowledge, did not answer her phone. I didn't dare call my mom and let her know I was proceeding with only a vague plan in place. Inga had always said, "Just put in your fruit, then sugar, and cook it down, then can it!" I decided to believe her.

The box of pectin said to add 8 cups of sugar for 5 cups of fruit for cooked jam. I added about 7 cups of sugar, and decided it was sweet enough for my 10 cups of fruit...Again, I'm nothing if not prepared and full of knowledge, whether made up or real...

I brought the mixture to a boil, and tasted it....It was good! I decided that I was probably just supposed to let it cook down until it was thick enough...So I turned it down to simmer. Apparently I'm really good at making decisions regarding things I really have no clue about!

Guess what? I sorted through a desk full of paperwork, did three loads of laundry, and cooked myself some pasta salad in the middle of this, then decided to install the new internet provider onto my computer...

After installing the internet, I googled "how to make plum jam without pectin."

PANIC!!!!

I was not doing it AT ALL how they said. Most of the sites recommended something to do with boiling and reaching 220 degrees. Luckily I had a candy thermometer that had been moved 3 times and never removed from the package! I busted that puppy out, tied a string around it and to the handle of my pot, then returned the mixture to a boil...

One site recommended putting a small sample in the freezer for a minute, and when it gels, it's done...Of course, I was supposed to have been boiling this mixture and stirring it constantly in this process...We won't dwell on the fact that I was starving at this point and made pasta salad at this time...

I boiled and boiled. I stirred and stirred. The blasted thermometer never got above 210. Dang. The jam got sorta thick in the freezer.

I was tired of this whole debacle. My neck and shoulders were aching from stirring and stress...I was hot...

I decided to proceed with canning the mixture...

And, now my kitchen looks like this, while I'm posting this story for you!


Side Note: I have all the juice from the mixture in juice bottles in my fridge. I will attempt jelly later on, and will attempt to follow directions accordingly...

I'll let you know how that works out for me.

Hey, do I seem to have a plethora of dot dot dots in this post, or what?

4 comments:

Marilyn said...

If you have jors, I will make your jelly this week-end.What's amother for?

Marilyn said...

Well, at least I should have read the former before I posted it. Darn key board just doesn't spell worth a hoot.

Dawn said...

hah! Mom--the key board.... I'm sure your jam will turn out fantabulous!

A~ said...

I miss the sand plum jelly... Just last week I had told Rachel about picking the plums.