Friday, March 13, 2009

Ready? SET!!

When I was a kid, I remember my mom sitting in the kitchen for hours canning various fruits and making jams. She would do so by following recipes found in this book...

The picture is of the actual book even, which I acquired the other day. You can see how used it was by the crease marks down the front of it.

My all time favorite jam that I remember her making while I was growing up, was plum.

A couple weeks ago I joined a food co-op, where, for $15 every 2 weeks I can get a laundry basket full of produce. It's an awesome deal...assuming you can/will actually use all the fruits & veggies that they stock you up with before it goes bad. So far I haven't gotten a picture of my basket. I forget until most of it is put away.

The first week I got 2 stalks of romaine lettuce, a bundle of broccoli, a bundle of spinach, 5 huge roma tomatoes, 4 large (and pretty I might add) red bell peppers, 2 long english cucumbers, about 6 oranges, 7 or 8 apples, about 10 plums, a bunch of bananas (maybe 12ish?) a pineapple, a small thing of blueberries, and probably a couple other things that I'm forgetting.

Last week, even though I hadn't used everything I got the first time, I HAD to buy again. The stuff changes from week to week and I HAD to find out what I'd get this time! It's a sick addiction, I know! Anyway, I got a huge thing of leafy green lettuce, another long english cucumber, 4 big yellow onions, a bag of carrots, a bag of celery stalks, another thing of what I thought was spinach, but after comparing it to what I know was spinach from the first time (because it was labeled as spinach) I don't think it says "collard greens" on it..anyone know what that is exactly? I mean they look like big green leaves, but what are they like comparison wise? anybody? Sorry, got off track there a there was also a bag of green grapes, a pint of strawberries, 7 pears, about 10 gala apples (my favorite) about 8 (bigger/sweeter than last weeks) plums, a cantaloupe, another big bunch of bananas, and again, I'm probably forgetting 1 or 2 things.

After getting all the stuff this last week and knowing that a bunch of stuff was still sitting in my fridge from the previous week, (2 weeks ago actually because it's only every 2 weeks..) I knew I needed to figure out something to do with the stuff. The salad makings I seem to have no problem making use of. The fruits on the other hand haven't been eaten as quickly.

Well, remembering back to how much I loved my mom's plum jam and the fact that I got a new food processor for Christmas that I've been trying to get good use out of, I decided I wanted to try and make some plum jam all on my own. I already had jars because my sil and I have made strawberry jam a couple times in the last year and a 1/2. I wasn't sure if I had a pot big enough for sterilizing the jars in, but I was willing to try. I've only ever made the strawberry jam with my sil and her mom present, so all I've ever done was follow their instructions. I was a little nervous going about this on my own, so I made sure to read the instructions several times through so I'd know exactly what I was supposed to do.

I realized right away that I wanted to avoid the recipe in the book my mom used, as it required an hour or so of actual cooking time. I didn't have that much patience, not knowing if it would turn out. Plus I had my own ideas as to how I wanted to try it and they were all against what this recipe called for. So I googled. I found that it WAS possible to do it the way I wanted, so I read up on all that I would need, made sure I had enough empty jars/lids/seals and then walked down to Walmart to pick up some Pectin and sugar.

After returning home, I pulled out my biggest pot (8qts) and filled it with water. I was able to easily fit 3 pt sized jars in and probably could have fit a 4th if I'd actually checked.

I proceeded with washing all the plums, then cutting and pitting. Next they went into the food processor. The recipe actually said to finely chop them, but that would have been too much work...I'm lazy I suppose.

After running them through the food processor, it was into the pot for 5 mins of simmering...

After the 5 mins it was time to add the sugar...

I guess I didn't get a picture of the after cooking/before jars but here they are after all the jars were filled...

According to the directions, I should have "processed" them in boiling water for 10 mins, again, one extra step I didn't have time for. I knew we had never done this with the strawberry jam and I was actually following the same (I believe it's the same anway) directions right off the pectin insert, so I was betting that they'd be fine if I just turned them upside down for a bit and then turn them over again. I let them set upside down while I was preparing some stuff to take to my parent's to fix them dinner and flipped them just before leaving. By this morning they had sealed properly and were already "set"...

I was very happy to say the least. I couldn't even wait to try it out. I took a bite before I remembered to get a picture...

It's good! Yummy, even! I'm rather proud at my first attempt of making jam on my own!

Now I gotta get some banana bread made with all the bananas I have. I'm an old pro at that though!

Hope everyone has a fabulous weekend!


The Thomas Crew said...

You are my hero!! I really should try canning some jam and veggies etc. Maybe that can be a project the girls and I do over spring break!!

Jenna Consolo said...

Great work, you ambitious girl, you!

Food co-ops are THE BEST. You should definitely keep doing it. And fruit is EASY to get rid of! Put the blueberries/strawberries/any berries on the kids cereal/oatmeal/granola/pancakes in the morning. Pack other things--apples (cut up) and oranges (peeled) in lunches. $15 is such a good price, you must use it! Oh, and if things start to get squishy (but not moldy, you know what I mean), then throw it all in a big Ziploc bag that you keep in the freezer and you can make smoothies with it whenever you want. Just put in some vanilla (or whatever you have) yogurt in the blender, a bunch of mixed up frozen fruit, and some milk and a little sugar. (Flax seed too, if you have it), and blend it up! Instant breakfast...that goes great with banana bread.

Your jam looks delicious! My mom was a big canner too when I was a kid, and I loved all those pretty jars lined up, but I've never really done much of it myself.

Leslie said...

Looks like you don't need me/us anymore!!

I still would like to do strawberry jam over spring break, you are welcome to join if you want. That is if I can find them on sale somewhere.

YogaNana said...

Wow, I'm proud of you and also kind of envious! I used to LOVE to can and make jam. Lots of good memories of sitting around while all the fresh hot bottles cooled and their lids pinged, counting those pings.

Another thing you can do with the fruit that starts to go over, especially there in the desert, is make fruit leather. Blend it up, add some honey, spread it on cookie sheets lined with plastic wrap, and either dry it in the oven at around 250 with the oven door propped open (for the moisture to evaporate), or just set it out in the sun. When it's thoroughly dry. cut it into strips and store it in bottles of baggies. Ours never needed to be stored very long, though.

You can also dry thin banana slices or apple slices. Oh, for fun!

YogaNana said...

This is David. Collards and other greens are of the cabbage family and are generally bitter. They don't taste at all like spinach to me. They're not generally eaten in salads, either. We used to boil them to death with ham or bacon. Mom and Dad loved them, but they were too bitter for me.

I guess it's a Southern thing, known in the rest of the country as " soul food." :-)


Hannah said...

Oh my gosh!!! Sarah can I come over so you can teach me? Seriously. I really want to learn how to can. Seriously.

lundgrenville said...

You are one brave gal...I would love to can foods/jellies/etc, but wonder how the turnout would be.
In the are you?
I have been so tied up with sick kids that I havent had much time for blogging....Hope all is well. :)

Leah Martineau said...

Hey Sarah!!! Yes I can get you a kit. I should have it ready by Wed or Thursday at the latest. So what do I do to get signed up for the veggie and fruit thing you are doing? I really want to start doing that so let me know how I sign up. my email is:

ps Plum jam is my favorite too!!! My mom always made it as well and sometimes I steal a jar from her pantry!! =) Ok so I'm not stealing, she doesn't mind, but I should learn to make it on my own.