Sunday, July 18, 2010

Plum Tuckered

My weekend started out energetically enough. I came home friday and stripped more plums off the landscaping. They were a little too close to overripe so instead of cleaning them and putting them in the fridge for the next day, I just went ahead and made more jam. I got fully half the plums off one tree and the other three trees offered up the other half (some of which got tossed out in the quality control process).
plum closeup with a purple leaf

Then Saturday and Sunday were somewhat lost to sloth. Biologically determined sloth, but sloth nonetheless. I still got stuff done because my mattress got delivered yesterday, so I reset the bed, and my organizer came today so things got done with or without my cooperation. Then I slept on the couch. I'm rousing myself long enough to post this before heading back to the new bed.

It's a little hard to see the difference in the pictures, but the airbed was oversized for the frame and somewhat blobby and formless. The mattress fits the frame and room better and makes the room look bigger by not being so overstuffed looking. Partly it's because the airbed was a queen, and the mattress is a Full XL (length of queen/king, width of full).

old aerobed
new mattress

See? Hard to tell a difference in the photo. You'll have to come visit.

More satisfying is plum jam. Plums stripped from the landscaping (which a neighbor asked the management company about and it's not poisoned to kill bugs or whatnot) were turned into jam with the addition of lots of sugar and some pectin. There were two efforts, 2 weeks apart. The first batch I tried to gather from plums poised to fall on my sidewalk, but still missed plenty having only a 2 step stepstool. The second batch was from 4 trees around the complex because I couldn't reach many more plums on my tree even with the 3 step ladder and by then plenty had already fallen off. I think the remainder will be gone within the week.

I've also been cleaning plums off the sidewalk because they leave a purple mush gauntlet that's not possible to get through without staining something. Yesterday's effort was done just before mattress delivery, making it my third cleaning. I went out this morning to go to my tan and thought there must be at least a dozen more plums that fell overnight. They were still pretty whole so I took the paint scraper out and scraped 33 newly fallen plums off the sidewalk. That's 3 shy of 3 dozen!! That's both a lot of plums for 1 day, and bad estimation skills on my part.

Here are pictures from the two jam making efforts. The first effort ended with me realizing that it wasn't setting up and wasn't boiling hot enough then dumping in a fair amount of pectin then accidentally scorching it a bit. It still tastes fine, but it's pretty solid and the first whiff from the open bottle smells a tad scorched. The second batch got boiled hotter with the skins in it, and had more natural pectin, so I added a very little more right at the end and managed not to scorch it.

I did squeeze in a meyer lemon, as well, but that's the sum total of ingredients: plums, sugar, pectin, lemon. Plus heat and elbow grease turns plums into this:
canned jam

For more pictures (including an opportunistic shot of the new toaster)

read more.

I gathered the plums in this green basket I got at the Dollar Spot at Target. I can't get out of there without spending $20, it's crazy. Anyway, this basket fit over my wrist and worked fine for the plums, which were just larger than the holes, for all that half the neighbors thought they were big-ass cherries. This is them
poised for cleaning. Even though they were getting boiled immediately, it gave me a chance to dig out anything less than wonderful and discard it, plus make sure I wasn't adding spiders for protein. Observant readers will see my new toaster in the background. I put down the flap where the toast slides out for the picture.
plums poised for cleaning

When they start to boil, they look like this. I thought about trying to take the pits out early, but they were firmly attached to the very plum flesh I most needed. So I waited them out.
plums boiling down

The first effort had the pits removed with rather too much stuff still on them, and too many skins went with them
removed pits, sloppy

The second effort was done after boiling the plums hotter, which got more of the pectin in the skins activated. I ladled them into a strainer over the pot, then picked them out. Labor intensive, but less so than doing it up front. A little tricky to not drip sugary plum sauce everywhere. But the removed pits clearly had more gel action going on, as you can see from me holding them over my used supplies. The canning funnel is key.
removed pits, canning funnel, ladle, pot

It leaves a little something that looks like this, once I run it through a food mill to puree/remove the skins.
jam juice

Which I put into cans. I needed to "water process" those for another 15 minutes in the canning pot. Canning is not challenging, but pesky. Things that make it less pesky: canning pot with jar rack, can lifter, canning funnel, ladle. If you want to home can anything, I recommend owning those tools, along with the consumables of jars, lids, and lid rings.
jars in steaming canning pot

Then I played with the pits some more.
pits defying gravity

One last shot of the jam in the jars.
jars of plum jam

1 comment:

Amy in sunny CA said...

As a kid, we had many fruit trees in the yard and mom would make jam every summer - apricot, strawberry, bosenberry, plum, etc. Loved it all year long!!

Enjoy !!