July 29, 2011

Fridays of Intestinal Fortitude:
Jam Session

Note: Fridays of Intestinal Fortitude is a weekly feature about food, food and more FOOD. No, I do not necessarily want to be a food blogger, but I do LOVE to talk about food prep, cooking food, eating food and making sweet love to food. Okay, maybe not the "sweet love" part. This is not meant to be some homage to 9 1/2 Weeks, after all.

Last weekend, I headed over to my friend Christy's to do some good, old-fashioned canning. My friends Celeste and LuAnn soon joined us (Celeste, aka Average Jane, also wrote about our experience.)

Christy grew up near Pratt, Kansas - a land chock full of Sandhill Plums. Last year, she brought me a jar of Sandhill Plum jelly and I was immediately in love. Sandhill Plums look like a bright red, orangeish cherry with a similar-looking pit. But they are super tart. However, mixed with some sugar and pectin, they make a sweet, lovely jelly with a just mere punch of tart.

A few weeks ago, Christy spent a day out near Pratt, riding through pastures and reaching through prickly, bug-infested bushes to pick Sandhill Plums.

10 Gallons worth, to be somewhat exact(ish):

She also purchased a crapton of sugar and pectin:
Why, yes!  That IS a 25 pound of hunka hunka C&H LOVE.  Quick! Someone call an ambulance for my pancreas.

We all donated some jars:
I hereby declare that Christy must ALWAYS provide a plaid tablecloth for our canning adventures.

Then, we got started.

We cooked some plums:

Then, we strained the plums, cooked the "jelly juice", skimmed the foam and filled the jars.

Each jar's rim had to be carefully wiped to ensure a good seal:

Then each jar was treated to hot water bath to entice some proper sealing.

After the jelly was done, we got to work on the jam. First, the plums had to mashed through a food mill.  By hand, with a huge, wooden pestle.

It was probably the least pleasant of all the tasks:
Although, for some reason, Celeste is a picture of frivolity. 

After mashing the pulp through the food mill, by hand, we cooked the jam down with more sugar, more pectin.  Then, we filled jars. Again.
In particular, I LOVED the banged-up, dented to hell, old-fashioned tin funnel - it was one of Christy's grandmother's funnels. I miss tinned utensils. Sigh.

After 6 hours of work, we had 48 half-pints and 9 full pints of jelly and jam.

Aren't they pretty?

I am hoping this will become an annual tradition.  How often does one get to spend an entire day with friends they love AND come home bearing jars of jelly?

And now, I need to figure out where to hide my stash of Sandhill Plum jelly from my family because seriously, they are not worthy.  

*The full set of photos can be found here.


D. Jain said...

I love canning! I like doing peach preserves and pepper jelly. I've never heard of Sandhill Plums before. Does the jelly taste like regular plum jelly?

Cagey (Kelli Oliver George) said...

D. Jain,
No, Sandhill Plums don't taste like regular plums - very, very tart. We did make a small, leftover batch of mixed plum - Sandhill and "regular". It was quite sweeter than the Sandhills alone.

Jhawks379 said...

What an awesome project! Hubby and I actually made sandplum jelly once, before children of course. Now we try to buy it when we are out in western Kansas, some old ladies have small businesses and sell it in the grocery store. His grandma made it, so he has a long history of addiction. I gotta say, it is excellent stuff. Enjoy!!

MLE said...

We've got Santa Rosa plums in the yard that I made into jam a few weeks ago, and another plum that's quite a bit smaller and a different color (they're reddish and not purple) and more tart, and I've almost got enough to make more jam from them (they're quite tart, like the Sandhills you describe). The only sad part is that I don't have any more jars, and I can't afford to buy more! :( I hope you enjoy your Sandhill jelly and jam for months to come.