|Remaining cherry plums in the front yard tree|
As these things usually go, I now wish I had spent more time paying attention in the kitchen so I too could effortlessly whip up anything and everything like my mom does. Lucky me though, I can still catch up. So yesterday I rode the ferry over to the folks' place and set about making cherry plum jelly.
So we got right to work! As you will see from the finished product below, my mom recycles her jars and seals them using wax instead of processing them to produce an airtight seal. The jars and lids had already been run through the washing machine, but we also boiled the lids in a saucepan for a few minutes and poured boiling hot water in the jars for further sterilization and to warm them up. After that we put the jars upside-down in the oven on low heat so they'd be dry and ready for the hot jelly pour.
Our recipe called for 4 cups of plum juice and 6 1/2 cups of sugar, though we used scant cups so it wouldn't be overly sweet so was probably more like 6 cups of sugar. After adding the sugar in, we heated together on medium heat, stirring fairly frequently to keep from burning.
My mom has always used Sure-Jell Certo Liquid Pectin, which we added once the sugar and juice were blended and warm before bringing the jelly to a roiling boil.
|My mom stands by Certo Liquid Pectin|
The boiling of jam can be a bit scary...it rises fast, and you need to stir pretty furiously and turn down the heat as needed to avoid a hot mess on your stovetop. Be sure you use a large enough saucepan and have potholders or gloves at hand to avoid burns.
|Jam at a full boil|
|Boiling on lower temperature|
After 1 1/2 minutes, we turned off the heat and let the jelly settle while we removed the jars from the oven.
|Removing the warm jars from the oven|
We then began pouring the jelly!
|Filling the jars|
|Letting a skin form|
|Close-up of air bubbles|
People have all kinds of ways for removing the air bubbles, but we just use a toothpick to pop the larger ones and kind of pull the bunches of bubbles together to then skim them off with a spoon. This is easier if you let the jelly set up just a little bit so a skin starts to form.
|Removing air bubbles with a toothpick|
As I was on air bubble removal patrol, my mom started heating the wax for the seals. She uses the below brand, and simply creates a makeshift pitcher from a tea can. See, you really don't need a lot of specialized kitchen gadgets!
|Double-boiler action with homemade pitcher|
|Pouring the wax seals|
|Ready for lids|
Once we poured the wax seals and let them set up, we made sure there were no cracks or bubbles needing topping off, and put the lids on and admired the gorgeous finished product. What a beautiful color, right?
|Finished plum jellies and some of the syrup|
After our hard jelly work, we had lunch on the deck with my dad and all went for a celebratory pint at Mill Valley Beerworks, a family favorite down the street, before popping me on the ferry amid rainbows and foggy mist.
|Mom at the bar|
|Rainbow ferry ride|
And, to give this all a sweet finish, below is today's breakfast: french toast (uh-mazing made with Acme Citrus and Almond Brioche acquired after getting off the ferry) topped with plum syrup and fruit. Couldn't be better!
|French toast with homemade plum syrup and fruit|