From Wild Plums to Jelly

This is the first year my dad was able beat the deer and birds to his wild plums and what a treat they were!    After eating my fill, I decided that some wild plum jelly would be a good way to use up the rest of the fruit.

wild plum jelly canning

My grandmother taught me how to make jelly when I was little.  At her house, summertime meant gardening and canning and never wasting any fruit or vegetable along the way.  She had such a tiny kitchen, and I was probably more in the way rather than helping, but she always made me feel like she couldn’t have made it without me and it was the best jelly ever because I had helped.

Making jelly is not hard, but you do need some basic equipment to get started.  Most of the equipment I have I got from her.  One of my favorite’s is a metal colander (?) juicer (?) with a wooden masher.

wild plum jelly canning

As you can tell from the stained masher, it’s been used once or twice before.

wild plum jelly canning

Another piece of equipment I use are her scales to weigh the fruit.

wild plum jelly canning

A water bath canner is used for jelly as well as high acid foods like tomatoes.  I originally had hers but it was pretty well-worn when I got it and eventually rusted out on the bottom.  It became a flower pot and I bought this one.

canning

Water bath canners have grooves on the bottom

canning

and jar racks to keep jars from sitting flat on the bottom of the cooker.

canning

This is an important feature and allows the boiling water to circulate under the jars.  The handles on the jar rack however are basically useless, (to me),  as they are too flimsy to pull full, hot jars completely out of the pot without them toppling everywhere.  I use jar grippers instead.

wild plum jelly canning

You will also need canning jars and lids, a canning funnel, sugar, pectin (or Sure Jell) and a variety of bowls and towels because making jelly can be a little messy (or a lot messy if you’re like me)

Wash the jars in the dishwasher.  I usually do this about an hour before I start making jelly or canning anything.  You want your jars hot when you put your jelly in and the dry cycle of the dishwasher works great.  But, since I started my jelly on the spur of the moment, I just put some clean jars in a pan of water and warmed them up.

wild plum jelly canning

Canning jars come in wide mouth and regular mouth sizes.  Wash whichever lids (the flat top) and caps (screws on top of lid) you need.  My recipe says it makes 8 half pints but I always have a couple extra jars and tops standing by just in case.  Place in a small pot and heat.  Everything needs to be kept warm.  Putting hot jelly in a cool jar can cause the jar to break.

wild plum jelly canning

Here’s a handy way to get your lids and caps out of the hot water. It’s magnetic so I don’t have to use a fork like I used to.  Brilliant.

canning

 

Place your water bath canner on the back burner and begin heating the water.  You will need the water to be to the boiling stage by the time the jelly is ready to be put in.

 

For wild plum jelly, you will need five pounds of plums

wild plum jelly canning

(I had seven pounds of fruit, so I put aside two pounds to make some freezer jam later.)

Wash plums.

wild plum jelly canning

In a stockpot, squeeze out the pulp and remove the seed.  The skin of the plum is also chock full of flavor, so I also put that in my pot as well.  This is the messy part and takes some time.  Someone told me (after I was done of course) that if you freeze the plums overnight the pulp of the fruit is not quite so mushy and the seeds will pop right out therefore eliminating the messy part.

Add four cups of water to the stockpot and simmer for about thirty minutes.

wild plum jelly canning

As this is simmering, find a big bowl and, if you don’t have a colander/strainer/juicer thingy like mine, line a good size strainer with cheesecloth and place on top of the bowl.

In my case, I used a measuring bowl underneath my contraption.

wild plum jelly canning

Use the masher to gently press the fruit through the strainer

wild plum jelly canning wild plum jelly canning

wild plum jelly canning

Let stand for thirty minutes or until you get 5 1/2 cups of juice.

Return juice to the stockpot.  Add one package (1-3/4 oz) of powdered fruit pectin (SureJell).  Stir and bring to a boil.  Add 7-1/2 cups of sugar.  Bring to a rolling boil and boil for one minute stirring constantly.

wild plum jelly canning

Remove from heat.  There will be a thin layer of foam on top.  Using a spoon, skim off foam.

wild plum jelly canning wild plum jelly canning

Next we put the jelly to the jar!

My grandmother always used a coffee cup to dip the jelly into the jars.  You can use a ladle or measuring cup, but I prefer the coffee cup method.

I do this next step one jar at a time so I can keep my jars hot ’til the last minute.

Place a canning funnel (yes this is hers) on top of the jar and ladle in the jelly.

wild plum jelly canning wild plum jelly canning

Wipe the rim of the jar with a wet paper towel or dishcloth.

wild plum jelly canning

Don’t forget this step. It is vital to getting a good seal.

Top with a lid

wild plum jelly canning

and screw on the cap.

wild plum jelly canning

Using a jar gripper, place the jars in a boiling water bath.  The water should cover the jars by about an inch.  (If it doesn’t,  add boiling water until it’s does)

wild plum jelly canning

Process (or boil) for 5 minutes.

wild plum jelly canning

When the time is up, use your jar grippers again and remove the jelly.  Set on a couple of dish towels.  You will begin to hear popping sounds (hopefully).  This means the jar is sealed.

Let set for twenty-four hours before moving.

Then make some biscuits and serve.

Mmm, mmm good!

Brenda

 

 

 

 

 

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About the blonde gardener

I'm an Arkansas girl born and raised. I garden in the beautiful Northwest part of the state (zone 6b or 7) surrounded by the Ozark Mountains. My favorite part about the area is we have 4 distinct seasons and are able to enjoy a variety of activities. My main passion is gardening but I also enjoy hiking, birding, 4-wheeling and motorcycle trips. Basically anything outside. Thanks for stopping by! Brenda
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13 Responses to From Wild Plums to Jelly

  1. sage_brush says:

    Your jelly is beautiful.

    Like

  2. bittster says:

    Nothing better than putting up some jelly for thos colder days…. except maybe honey 😉

    Like

  3. Dawn says:

    Oh Brenda! I just love the story about how your grandmother taught you to make jelly! Now you are honoring the family tradition by using her canning equipment. It’s just so wonderful! Since I have never tried canning, it was really fascinating to watch the step-by-step process. It would be such fun to come watch… and I would bring the biscuits! ♡

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    • Canning is not that hard. Jelly is pretty simple, too. Our county extension office will hold classes on how to can. You might check with yours and see if they do that. Most of the time the classes are free.

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  4. Jelly Ode to Grandma! Very educational and I loved all the references to Granny.

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  5. I agree with everyone above! I love plum jelly, but love the jam more, because it is easier and makes more. 🙂
    Also, I always begin jelly day by baking a fresh loaf of bread. A gal could make herself sick around my place on that day. 😉

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  6. This was very helpful. I love the strainer that your using! Next time I attempt jam/jelly/canning I’m going to keep your post up on my computer as I go. It’s the little steps like wiping off the top of the jar that I think make a big difference and in my state of panic I forget things like that!

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  7. Pingback: A Good Time To Look Back | The Blonde Gardener

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