I made plum jelly today. Jelly is one of those things that requires a tonne of patience, and a good jelly bag. I started a small food preserving cooperative using Google Groups (go join if you’re in the Lower Mainland and interested!) and I’m really hoping it takes off. I’m also looking to buy a small chest freezer. My life will be weirdly complete when I get a chest freezer.
(Wow, 20-something me is completely rolling her eyes at me right about now).
Anyway, jelly is interesting. Good jelly is crystal clear, and if you were to upend the jar, it would come out as a tube (and probably with a bit of a suction-y sound effect) and stay that way before gravity forced it to come apart. Good jelly is an art. It should be sweet and flavourful, with no fibers of the fruit. Good jelly also feels a teeny bit wasteful to me – I used about 5 pounds of picked over plums today, and it yielded 4 X 250ml jars and 2 X 125ml jars. Granted, I could have gotten more liquid out of the cooked down plums had I used a proper jelly bag or have had a way to raise the bag higher, but still -our composter was given a gallon of liquid gooey plum-y mess today. Good jelly also takes forever, because when you’re letting the mushed, cooked fruit strain through your jelly bag, using a spoon and forcing it through or squeezing the bag will make your jelly cloud. You just gotta let it do it’s thing on it’s own time and just roll with it.
Today was a good day weather -wise for preserving, and I am happy it wasn’t a market day, or a day when I had lots of plans for being out and about. It wasn’t too hot, it was nice and breezy, and I just need to stop for a second and sing the praises of my new kitchen for it’s awesomeness when it comes to room to make the goods. Counter space – I has it.
Being able to produce something like plum jelly without using a recipe and just knowing some general ratios like X amount of liquid from cooked fruit to X amount of white sugar, cooking at a boil until it sheets correctly, then processed for at least 5 minutes in a boiling water bath… I LOVE the fact that I know this stuff. I like the fact that I can take a pretty good guess at whether something has to have added pectin. It makes me feel, I don’t know… like I could survive off the land if I needed to. I mean, yeah, we’re talking about JAM and JELLY here, not like I can snare a rabbit or something. But, if life gave me a plum tree, I feel better about myself knowing I know a way to use that tree. That tree? It’s not just for looks and making birds drunk.
When I make canned foods, I kind of feel like banging my chest and shouting “I! I have made jelly!”