My friend, Sherry Elias posted on FaceBook that she had a tree full of plums . . . come get some! So, I loaded up a box and the dog and headed out for a plum picking adventure.
It doesn't take long to pick a box of plums (this is a paper ream box . . so it was a pretty good haul). We did not even make a DENT in the amount of plums on her tree.
I drove home with visions of plum jam in my future all winter long. I dumped them in the sink and started sorting. Throwing away anything that was green and hard and anything that was mushy which was surprisingly few. Of course, my lips were purple from taste testing!
Now, I'm a lazy jam maker. I could have spent the time cutting these little babies in half and removing the stones . . . but I was blessed with a mom who canned EVERYTHING and believed in not working any harder than you have to. So, as I've seen my mother do . . . I just tossed them in a pot, with a handful of sugar to get the action started, mashing them with a potato masher until they were cooked down. I had to cook several batches to get them all. (smelled soooo good)
After cooling, I strained the mix through a wire strainer . . squeezing all the pulp off the stones. This left me with a thick slurry of juice and plum pulp. Since I brilliantly pick so many . . I had no one pot to cook them down in. Necessity being the mother of invention . . . I hauled out the roaster pot! What a perfect solution! At the ratio of 1 cup of slurry to about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of sugar, I let it bubble slowly over the course of the day until thickened. Because I did not use proper jam/jelly ratios of fruit to sugar (usually 1 to 1 . . I didn't want as much sugar in mine) . . it will not "set" or "jell" properly. This can be fixed by dissolving approximately 1 Tablespoon of unflavored Gelatin per pint of fruit. It will NOT set when room temp . . but when each jar is refrigerated, the texture is PERFECT for spreading . . mmmmm MMMMMM
All that was left now was to ladle into warm jars and water bath can at 7 minutes per batch. Oh how I love the sound of "plinking" jar tops as they seal. It is a sound reminiscent of my childhood. The satisfying sound of all those cans sealing one by one.
As a kid, I HATED having to can produce. My parents were organic and self sufficient before it was a fad to do so. As and adult . . . I am very thankful that I learned how to cook and can and grow a garden. Thank you Mom & Dad!
One box of plums made 19 pints of jam! Jim is busy calculating just how many peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that will make over the winter LOL. We are already down TWO jars (oink) and I've already made arrangements for trading one on one for jars of peach jelly.
Never worry about canning too much of one item . . . the horse trading value is PRICELESS.