Baby tomatoes

Baby tomatoes

Monday, August 24, 2015

Canning Cookbook- Wild Plum Jelly

A drive in the Iowa countryside in the early spring is a beautiful thing. Wild flowers are abundant in the roadside ditches and farm fields. Day lilies bloom in huge clusters all along gravel roads. Dandelions smile in the sunshine. Many country roads are bordered with row after row of bushes covered in pristine white blossoms. The blooms are teeny tiny and smell sweet. Before too much longer these same bushes will be covered in little red wild plums no bigger than an olive. 

These miniature fruits are a real treasure. They are sweet and juicy, just like their full-sized counterparts, and make amazing jams, jellies and sauces. When I was a little girl my dad used to load my sister and I in the car and we'd head out into the country to pick wild plums along the roadsides. Sometimes we'd bring home boxes full of them.

These plums are really very tiny. They truly are about olive size with a fairly large pit for their size. They aren't the easiest thing to eat fresh but they are very sweet and juicy. I found the  best way to use them is to cook them whole, and strain out the pits. The skin usually cooks down and pretty much dissolves, leaving a beautiful rosy color. They are a freestone fruit so the flesh of the plum doesn't cling to the stone.  

To make this recipe you need roughly a gallon of wild plums. You can cook with the pits in (you'll be straining anyway) or pit the plums beforehand- it's up to you. I don't pit them first- too much work! After sorting out the bad ones and cooking them, straining and discarding the pits you'll have anywhere from 6 to 10 cups of liquid, depending on the juiciness of the plums. To make the juice wash the plums well and remove any stems. Discard any that might be buggy. Place in a large stockpot and add enough water to cover the plums. Bring this mixture to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer 30 to 45 minutes until the plums have broken down completely.

Line a colander with two layers of cheesecloth (or use a jelly bag) and place over a large bowl. Ladle the plum mixture into the colander. Allow the juice to drain off into the bowl overnight (in the fridge). Discard the plum pulp (add it to your compost pile if you have one) and your juice is ready to use. Let's make some wild plum jelly!

Wild Plum Jelly

5 1/2 cups wild plum juice
2 cups water
1 box powdered pectin
71/2 cups sugar

Prepare a boiling water bath canner, half pint jars and lids.

Measure 5 1/2 cups juice into stockpot. Add the pectin. Bring to a full rolling boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Add the sugar all at once; return to full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil for one minute. Remove from heat.

Ladle into hot jars to 1/4 inch headspace. Process in canner for 10 minutes.

NOTE: This recipe has not been tested by the NCHFP. If you are not comfortable canning untested recipes, please do not use this one.

No comments:

Post a Comment