I have taken my inspiration from Bex Hodgkins and Janelle Edmondson, who’ve been cooking and canning/preserving food this month. I’d like to learn how to preserve food in general. Bex assures me that jams are easy, and indeed this recipe looks easy. Canning just seems intimidating, with a touch of macrame and unshaven legs. I’m told that it is 2012 and macrame and hair are bad things from my childhood, and there are adult women who happily can food without these associated memories. It’s probably like knitting, crochet and quilting now….a generation had to pass for us to realize these things are not only cool, but have always been cool. And smart. And practical.
I chose plums to try because they looked good, they were Colorado local and my palette doesn’t have strong feelings about what plum jam SHOULD taste like. I also may try mint apple jelly because I have more mint than I can possibly eat AND give away in my garden for the next three years….and mint apple jelly happens to be both my, and Chase’s favorite. (And we are the only two people I know who eat it.) Also, I’d like to do either a pear and/or peach cinnamon jam, because those, or fig jam, with goat cheese? *swoon* There’s bushels and bushels of beautiful Colorado peaches out there, too.
But let’s start with experiment #1. Here we go.
source: Ball Blue Book: guide to preserving
“vegan” (if the vegan in question eats generic sugar, and many do not), gluten –
- 5 c coarsely chopped plums (~ 2 lbs) (I used the seven plums pictured)
- 3 c sugar
- 3/4 c water
Combine plums, sugar and water in large saucepot. Bring slowly to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Cook rapidly to gelling point.
I didn’t know what this meant, and if you do, skip this paragraph. Gelling point: dip cold metal spoon into boiling jelly. Lift out a spoonful, and move away from steam. Tip spoon. When jelly comes off the spoon in “sheets” it is done (as opposed to syrupy). I think it made more sense as I saw it. My jam went from solid, clear cut shapes of plum soaking in what appeared to be a ponderous amount of sugar syrup, to looking like jam is supposed to look. This took longer than I thought it would….about 45 minutes? Maybe an hour.
As mixture thickens, stir frequently to prevent sticking. Remove from heat. Skim foam if necessary. Ladle hot jam into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace (at the top). Adjust two-piece caps. Process 30 minutes in a boiling water canner at metro Denver or foothills altitude. (Sea level: 15 minutes, Summit County, 35 minutes)
This came out inCREDibly good. Got a big YUM! from Chase. This made us 32 ounces total of jam….8 little 4 ounce jars. I am not concerned about the immediate consumption of the jam (which starts tomorrow morning…..OH! I wonder if I have a good muffin recipe!). I do wonder how it’ll work out for longer term storage. I don’t think these eight little jars will last long at all, especially since I’ll probably give some away, too. (Because sharing at harvest time is fun.) I guess we’ll find out.
But I do feel like, now, that I can do this, and it really is pretty easy. Time-consuming, yes. But a perfectly lovely way to spend a Saturday afternoon in the kitchen. My house smells mouth-watering. If you’ve been canning and doing this for years, you know all this already. In case you haven’t, I blundered into it and the results (so far, I’m still processing) are astonishingly good. I’ve made 32 oz of jam from organic fruit. It contains sugar, but not high fructose corn syrup or anything else complicated. It cost me a bit of an afternoon, and about $3.50. For comparison, 30 oz of Smucker’s Red Plum jam, which has HFCS, is about $13.00.
I realize that I’m very slow to figure out that this is a good thing. But I got there. Yup. Feelin pretty smug right now. Eat your heart out, Betty Crocker.