Friday, July 30, 2010

Plum Jelly Adventures

I debated about whether or not I should post this in the recipe blog, but then I decided that it is virtually just taken from the Sure Jell instructions, the only thing that I am adding is pictures and commentary.  I am not experienced enough yet to go off the paper with jams and jellies.  It has been a little while since the only other time I made plum jelly.  I still agree with this post, that was written back in the day when people read my blog (and now I am closer to having the supplies and time!).

So anyway, I've decided that I like making jelly enough to perhaps go out and get some proper equipment (namely, a canner, and an elevated rack for the jars to sit on), and to start making other things like jams and sauces (well, I already make sauces, but now I will start canning them!).  If I am successful (and even if I'm not), it might be my signature Christmas gift from here on out.

Ok.  I think that is sufficient introduction.  Yesterday I made some plum jelly.  I am still in the learning phase, so there are things that I would certainly change the next time I do this, and of course, toward the end I was doing too much to also be able to stop and take a picture.  So toward the end, you'll just have to use your imagination.

Ok. Plum Jelly.
You will need:
5 lbs Plums (I must confess that when I made Plum Jelly in Lithuania, I messed up Kilos and Pounds and ended up getting 5 kilos of Plums instead of 5 pounds.  That's why I ended up making two batches :)
Pectin (I used a small box of Sure Jell Premium Fruit Pectin...1.75 oz/49 g)
1 1/2-2 cups water
6 1/2 cups sugar

Makes about 9 cups (We filled 9 and a half small jelly jars)

1. Prepare lids and jars (this is the first instruction on the list, but I actually did this step closer to the end.  It basically involves cleaning the jars and letting the lids sit in hot water until you are ready to use them).
2. Prepare fruit. Discard pits (do not peel) and finely chop plums. Place in a large saucepan; add 1 1/2 cups water. Bring to boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 10 minutes, stirring often.
I don't know if this is the proper knife or not. I tend to use the improper knife from time to time whenst cutting things. I've only had to go to the emergency room once as a result.
Early on in the boiling.
Closer to the 10 minute mark. Yum yum.

 3. Place 3 layers of damp (Crap! I didn't notice this part until just now, one day after the jelly was made.  Oh well, the cheesecloth got damp when I poured the prepared fruit into it) cheesecloth or jelly bag into a large bowl. Pour prepared fruit into cheesecloth. Tie cheesecloth closed; hang and let drip into bowl until dripping stops (feel free to make a trip to Target or run other errands while this is happening, it takes a while.  Next time I do this, I might do the "press gently" part a little sooner...and by "press gently" I mean sit and massage the bag until you have the amount of juice you need). Press gently.
Found on an end cap at the grocery the same aisle I found the Sure Jell (I think in the baking aisle, near flour).
Could also be used for Halloween decorations.
Our homemade jelly making kit. You will need: One lacrosse stick, two chairs, a big bowl, and one Friends Trivia game (in addition to the cheese cloth full of prepared fruit).

I don't know why I get grossed out by medical things and not cooking things.  Essentially, they look similar.  Also, apparently you can clean and reuse the cheesecloth.  We shall see.
4. Measure exact amount of prepared juice into 6- or 8-quart saucepot (if necessary, add up to 1/2 cup of water to get the exact amount of prepared juice needed...which is 5 1/2 cups for plum jelly).
5. Measure exact amount of sugar into separate bowl.
6. Stir in one box of pectin into juice in saucepot. Add 1/2 teaspoon butter or margarine to reduce foaming, if desired (I would recommend it.  Can't hurt, right?).
7. Bring mixture to a full rolling boil (a boil that doesn't stop bubbling when stirred) on high heat, stirring constantly (can you see why there is no photo documentation of this?).
8. Stir in sugar quickly. Return to full rolling boil and boil exactly one minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, skim off any foam (I didn't need to do this, because I add the the margarine..and because a little foam never hurt anyone!).
9. Ladle quickly into prepared jars, filling to within 1/8 inch of tops. Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with two-piece lids. Screw bands tightly. Place jars on elevated rack in canner (I need to get one of these. I ended up using the biggest pots I could find, which were just barely big enough...anyway, it is possible to do it this way, but if you are going to be doing a lot of canning, it is worth it, I think, to go ahead and get the proper equipment).  Water must cover jars by 1 to 2 inches; add boiling water if needed. Cover; bring water to gentle boil (if you forget to cover, like I did, it will take forever to come to a gentle boil, and you will waste a lot of energy). Process for 5 minutes. Remove jars and place upright on a towel to cool completely. After jars cool, check seals by pressing middle of lid with finger (If lid springs back, lid is not sealed and refrigeration is necessary).
The flash made the jars look darker than they actually are...and therefore made the jelly look darker than it actually is.
No flash makes for a more accurate picture for color, though slightly out of focus.  I like this one better.

10. Let stand at room temperature 24 hours. Store unopened jelly in cool, dry, dark place up to one year. Refrigerate opened jelly up to 3 weeks. (I feel like you can store jelly in the freezer for even longer...I have anyway).

Also, if the jelly doesn't set (if it doesn't have that jelly-like texture), there are some directions as to what to do on the Sure Jell instruction sheet.  In my limited experience, I would say to give it some time, it might just take a little while for your jelly to set...and until then, it makes a nice sauce that you can pour on your pancakes or ice cream :)


Laura said...

I like to say that plum jelly is one of my favorite fruits, but Steve says it doesn't count because there is more sugar than fruit in it. So I will have to just stick to avocados, tomatoes, and the occasional banana. And orange juice (pulp free).

Warren MacLeod said...

Laura, I still read your blog (in response to your "back when people still read my blog" comment). Also, I didn't realize that you could just buy cheesecloth. That would have been a load of my mind for years!!! :)

Laura said...

Thanks Warren :)
I should've said "back when people commented a lot on my blog...or back when I commented a lot on people's blogs"
We could not find any cheesecloth in Lithuania (maybe just didn't know where to look?), but here it is in abundance (like everything else in the states! ;)

Warren MacLeod said...

I've noticed the decreased commenting as well. I think it comes from having a reader which puts one more step between reading and commenting. Lame.

Laura said...

True true

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