Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Plum Sauce, Plum Jam, Plum Jelly, Plum Cocktail, Popcorn Plums, Plum Scampi, ...

OK, the title is a bit of a reach. Supposed to be a reference to Forrest Gump (when the other guy was listing all of the kinds of shrimp).

ANYWAY: 33 more jars of plum products today AND I still have a big colander full of lovely pink plums that I haven't used yet. There were 4 or 5 colors of plums (purple, gold, pink, red...there might be more but I'm tired) and I wanted to use each one and see how it goes.

My pitter is dead so I've been cooking them down a bit, squishing through a colander, and using a paring knife to pull out the pits from the mush. Combine the juice and the mush and voila! Jam base.

I got tired of picking pits on the 2nd load of gold plums and gave up. I poured the lot into a bit of cheese cloth and made jelly. If I were a good and frugal person, I would have taken the pits out of the plum mush and made it into plum butter. Too tired. I'll put it in the compost and plant some of the pits.

The red...ah, the 5th color, plums were reduced to plum butter. Partly because I'm running out of jars! I put in some raw, organic hawaiian honey that a friend gave me for babysitting her dog (Romney...he's been in the blog before). It isn't very sweet still, but the color is amazing. More of that fuscia. Same color I got mixing red and pink plums for a previous batch of jam. I wanted to spice the plum butter, but I forgot spices at the co-op, and here in town they only have the over priced little bottles. I just could NOT spend 12$ for two little bottles. Plain butter it is. There are 7 8oz jars and one pint...like I said, running out of jars. Next year I may just put the jam in quarts.

I'll let you know how the jelly turns out. It's my first attempt at jelly and it was born of laziness...how typical of me.

Now that I know you can make jelly and butter out of one effort (thanks to a book on wild fruit gathering I got from Jeanne...HI Jeanne!) I'm going to try it with crab apples next weekend or the weekend after. Some should be ready then.

There are also recipes for rosehips conserve and other lovely things.

This year, I'm not buying any fruit...must all be gathered by hand. As a result, there is less variety. No marmalade....since there are no wild (or even feral) citrus trees around here.

All that jamming/jellying/buttering (just canning the butter, it had been reducing in the crockpot for a day and a half...lid askew...worked like a charm as it did not scorch) started at about 6pm today. 33 jars in 5.5hours (add 2 hours for processing the plums for the butter so I guess that is 7.5 hours). If you figure 5$ per jar for good organic jam/jelly/butter (which is LOW...especially when one jar is a full pint) and I'm getting 33 jars. That's 165$ minus the jars, lids, pectin and sugar (the honey was free) and a bit for the electricity to heat the water for washing everything, and for running the stove top to cook the jam and run the canner (I only boiled the plum better, everything else was done by flipping the jars over...works fine). So, sugar for tonight was about 4$. The jars this evening were high as I was almost totally out of reusable jars (damn those coworkers who don't return jars) and were 15$. Pectin is 2.15$/pack and used 2 packs so that is $4.30. I've used 4 new lids this evening which is about 50cents or so. Say the electric will cost me like 1$ (it's hydroelectric and cheap in dollars even if pretty expensive for the environmental effects on the river). I get 24.80$ as my cash outlay for the evening (god...what would that have been for the 15 pounds of plums I got free?).

ANYWAY: that leaves: 165 - 24.80 = 141.20(savings over buying jam) / 7.5(hours) = $18.83/hour for my efforts. And of course that is tax free.

IF I had a working pitter...especially one of those that you crank or just hit repeatedly while cherries (or plums...these are about the size of cherries) I could process them MUCH MUCH quicker and up my hourly thrifty activities savings rate.

I used my little handheld plastic pitter the first time I jammed plums this year and it, along with my hand, died. My hand is getting better but the pitter is not.
SOMEONE (Hi Sher and Pam) could get me a very cool pitter for christmas....that would be awesome.

Anyway, after tomorrow, these plums will be gone. Hopefully the crabapples and other apples will be ready next week. I hope I don't have to drive somewhere to get jars. I hate that. I have some pints. But that seems like a whole lot of apple butter especially when I haven't made it before and it might be crap.

There are more plums...and some service berries. But I need to let them go. The berries are a bit past their prime and well, 73 jars of plum stuff plus however many I get out of the last batch should be enough.

I also have several quart jars of dried sweet cherries and some sweet cherry leather so I'll have some variety this winter. And a bit of huckleberry jam but that will probably be mostly for christmas presents to the aunts (sorry to ruin the surprise!) Next year I need to be more aware of what's in season and less occupied with other things.

Perhaps next year I'll grow cucumbers and can try pickles too. They can't suck more than the spiced crabapples. Those stank it up. Apologies to anyone who got them as a gift and tried to eat them. Maybe you could shove them down gopher holes or something.

3 comments:

Angelamusings said...

Jill,

Reading your blog reminds me of when I would read Little House books as a girl and the author would describe all the food that was being stored for the winter. I didn't even like things like squash and such, but they sure sounded tastee when they were in Pa Ingalls' barn. It's funny because when I read your blog entry's title, I immediately went to that scene in Forest Gump too. So glad your allusions aren't lost on me. I'll tell you what sounds so tempting to me -- those dried cherries. They would be so delicious in pancakes (if I made pancakes), waffles (if I made waffles), muffins (if...aw, you get the idea). It sounds like you will have a delicious fall and winter. Are you an apple person? Apple fritters or cider on the way? Laurie, you know what apple season in Champaign means: CURTIS FAMILY ORCHARD WITH PUNKIN JOE! I really need to find a picture of him one of these days. Good luck with the canning, Jill.

Fly Right said...

Angela, I just may have to return to Curtis Orchard this fall--are you up for a guest (or 2)? "Don't forget to feed the goats and chickens!"

I, too, was taken back to the Little House books. I believe the food was kept in the root cellar, or am I thinking of a Clampett (or Koenigs) reference? Jill, I'm so jealous of your jamming. I made a small batch of strawberry from the berries in our garden. That's it. My friend Natalie makes great pickles--the ones that she puts little hot peppers in are my favorites of all time!

Jeanne said...

Hey Jill, you really gotta get one of those juicer/steamers! Yes, they are a bit spendy but as much as you put stuff up it would soon pay for itself. I broke down and got one a couple weeks ago at Ace Hardware and really like it. Tonight I made rhubarb black currant jam and previously made crab apple hot pepper jelly and chocolate choke cherry sauce/butter. Yummy!