Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Plum Jam with Mom

I haven't made jelly with my mom since I was in middle school. One year I entered her famous Wild Mustang Grape Jelly in the homemaking division of our county livestock show. We picked the grapes that were growing wild in some trees on our family land along the Nueces River. I remember it being hard work...picking, washing, culling, cooking, straining, cooking some more...but the reward was great...some awesome tasting jelly and a blue ribbon at the county show! Looking back, the biggest reward was the time spent with Mom in the kitchen learning about canning and the beauty of making something yourself from scratch. I was too young at the time to appreciate it, but I sure do now!

Recently, I had the treat of canning with Mom once again. A family friend, Michele, very generously shared some of the Methley plums she had growing like crazy on her ranch in Doss, Texas. This variety of plum grows great in the Hill Country and it is small enough to pop into your mouth whole. They are sweet and juicy as can be on the inside with slightly tart flesh. It is a favorite in these parts and I intend to plant at least five trees next year. They are amazing! I washed and culled, Mom squished out the juice, and away we went canning into the night! We made some beautiful and delicious plum jam and got to spend some good quality time together...just the two of us!

Sorting plums and reading one of my favorite blogs for canning...Tigress in a Jam. She has a great "Canning 101" page that I refer to often.

Sterilizing jars and lids in boiling water.

The beautiful plum juice with lots of yummy pulp squeezed out by Mom's hands.

Adding 8 cups of sugar and one box of powdered fruit pectin called Sure Jell.

You just can't go wrong with good old tried and true Sure Jell. Well...that's actually not true. You can and will go wrong if you do not follow the directions exactly. It also helps to say a big prayer that all of the fruit you picked/bought and all the prep you did doesn't go to waste.

Stir, stir, stir constantly.

Bring to a rolling boil that you cannot stir down and time for one minute.

Remove hot jars from water and set on wooden cutting board covered with wax paper in case of spills. Fill hot jars with fruit mixture using ladle and funnel to keep rim of jars clean. Only fill to 1/2" from top of jar. Wipe rims clean with damp cloth if necessary. Quickly put on hot seals and tighten rings onto jars. Place jars back into water and bring to a gentle boil. Process (boil) for 10 minutes and remove. Let jars sit for at least 24 hours. You will immediately begin to hear popping sounds. These are the jars sealing! After a few hours, test the seals by pressing down with your finger on the top of each seal. If the seal pops in and out, refrigerate the contents of that jar immediately. If the seal does not move, you are in business. Store your jam in a cool, dark place and enjoy. In my opinion, jam is best after it sits for about a week. Make or purchase some cute labels and give as gifts or eat it all yourself! Bask in the glory of knowing you created something with your own two hands.

Our little helper, Emerson, overseeing our project and eating all the plums she can get her hands on!