Thursday, August 25, 2011

Making Plum Jam

I just wiped off the bathroom counters with a dirty nightgown. Does this make me a bad person?

It's not my fault. The Direct TV guy showed up early, which is good except that I hadn't cleaned the bathroom. Or showered. Are you beginning to understand the whole antitheses of Martha thing?

As promised, I did make jam. Or maybe it's marmalade. It's kind of chunky.

First, I bought 4 oz Ball jars at the grocery store along with a packet of Ball pectin and a box of sealing wax. I already had tons of plums at home, and I thought plum jam might be nice.

I'm not a stupid woman. I called Grandma before I made another move. She had just the recipe for me. It was a freezer jam recipe, so I wouldn't need to boil jars or make seals. (She had mercy on me because she knows me. Thanks, Grandma.)  Right after I hung up, I realized that I hadn't bought any Sure Jell. She definitely said to add Sure Jell.

Then I noticed that the pectin package promised recipes. Nestled inside the box, I found a complex chart that covered three ways to make jam, including a freezer method that didn't ask for Sure Jell. They gave examples of quantities used for various fruits, but plums weren't on the list. I took a wild guess. Peaches and plums are pretty similar, right? 

The recipe called for three cups of fruit. Grandma said to use six cups for one package of pectin, so I settled on four and a half cups. Grandma said to cut up the plums and smoosh them with the potato masher. I soon realized that I didn't have enough ripe plums. Some of them weren't smooshy, and the recipe warned me not to use the food processor to grind up the fruit or I would destroy the fruit's natural pectin. I guess with pectin, it's the more, the merrier. So I added some peaches to make up the difference.

When it came time to add the sugar, I figured fruit is so sweet, why bother?  Grandma recommended cutting her recipe's six cups to three. The pectin recipe agreed with her, but I boldly (or foolishly) limited the sugar to one cup.

Now, the pectin recipe said to mix the pectin with apple juice over a burner. Then pour the hot liquid over the fruit and stir for one minute. I had some pretty chunky plums and peaches. I thought it might be a good idea to heat up the fruit separately and let it soften up a bit. Then I could give it a few more wacks with the potato masher. So I did.

Then I added the hot apple juice/pectin mixture to the fruit and stirred.

I spooned the results into my jars and refrigerated them for twenty-four hours. Then I moved all but two jars into the freezer. The results?

The jars are pretty. So is the jam. All plummy-looking, except for the large chunks of peaches. I should have cut the fruit into smaller pieces.

There was a slightly bitter aftertaste. I think I might have gotten too close to the pits when I cut up the plum. After a night in the ice box, the chunks of fruit had softened up enough that my toast and marmalade breakfast wasn't crunchy.

Overall? A success.

Define success? I could give a jar away to someone I know really well and not feel horrible about it. Or someone I'll never see again.

You want to know the hardest part? Taking the picture. Anyone who reads food blogs such as Buns in My Oven  might think that taking good-looking food photos is easy. It's not.

I posed my jar on the white tile counter that I re-grouted last year, but the grout looked dingy. Then I set the jar on a dish towel. There was a grey smudge on the cloth that could only mean my dog Buster had wiped his mouth on it. He does that sometimes. Gross.

After I looked at this last shot, I thought the towel needed ironing. Martha's probably are. I decided it looked homey.

I know you're wondering what happened to that unused sealing wax. Maybe I'll try to make my own candles.

1 comment:

  1. I stand corrected. Someone pointed out that marmalade is made with citris. Mine might qualify as "preserves". Sounds fancy!