Search This Blog

Saturday, 25 July 2015

The day when I was making jam.


Hello everyone

With the heat-wave giving us it's best, I decided to stop with the irrational behavior (working outdoor, unless it's urgent IS not bravery, it's also not to be done on the hottest time in the year) and to spend a moment or two writing you about how I make jam.

Image taken, with respect
(owner in it's bottom right corner)

Earlier this week I was making cherry plum jam. Cherry plums grow all over the place, and most of the people have them in their yards. They are often looked over, since majority of folks here use them to make moonshine (yeah.. homemade beverage high in alcohol content) 

There are two types of cherry plum that are seen most often here:

On the left - the "colored" one
On the right - yellow cherry plum

There is a difference between them, both in taste and texture. Also, as I was soon to find out, there's also the difference in cooking time.
I took me four days to prepare both varieties. Two for each. Since I work full time, I had to pick the plums on one day and cook on another. Twice. :)

The recipe?
There's no secret to that. I'm always using the same old (oh, so truly old!) cook book recipe, and I believe that it's all right, since it has never turned out wrong - and it has been done by multiple generations of women, from the both parental sides of my family.
You firstly wash the jars, and finish the washing by rinsing them in hot (hot, hot) water. We don't cook the jars, honestly ladies - no need for that.. but, if you fear your jars just might not be squeaky clean, by all means: boil away. :)
Then you wash your plums and remove the pits. I like to mush mine with hands just to get the feel of how much water they are giving away and THAT tells me how much sugar I need to put. The rule of thumb being: if you feel a lot of bursting going on while you're mushing - you need more sugar. Then I take a modern device into action. I admit: I use blender - I love my jam homogeneous. :)
Oki-doki. Here's the trick: pectin costs money. And, why waste your dime when you can just blend some apples with your other fruit? I use about 200 grams of apples for every kilo of fruit. And I blend that all together.

This poster is OBLIGATORY :)

Now comes the sugar. Most of the recipes call for WAY too much sugar. I use 300 grams of sugar for every liter of blended mush (no better name for it). :)
Sugar gets it's turn first in our home. We cover it with just a bit of water, enough for you to JUST be able to mix it (and you must use large, long wooden spoon - do not ask me why.. it's how it has always been done over here). Sugar is caramelized, by the point of "mad bubbles". How should I best explain this? You know that children's toy..

The "bubble maker"
(dip into mix of water and dish washing detergent and 
blow your bubbles away)

Yes, that's the "tool" we use. Dip in sugar and blow. If your getting bubbles, your sugar is ready to receive the mush. 
Then what?

.
.
.
.

Then you prove yourself worthy of your family name

Standing tall for many hours.
Ladies (and gents):
Don't be foolish... and 
DO NOT put your head over boiling jam 
(you can, however do your obligatory "selfies" while it's still warming up
(like this deranged woman in the photos is showing)  :)

And, in my case: I had total of 9 liters of fruit and sugar mixture, divided in two, since I don't have stove large enough. It took me two and a half hours to boil it down to it's half; which is pretty much the aim here. 

Day four of making jam.
Way in the back, you can see the first batch 
(made two days before this one)
in it's lovely jars.

Knowing when it's done? Sure, easy, done in two ways:
1. Run your wooden spoon on the bottom of your pan, if you can see the jam splitting up (my grandma used to say: Moses split the sea, we're slitting the jam) :) .. it the split is evident - you're done
2. Take a saucer and place a small amount of jam onto it, and watch if it's moving around as you shake the saucer (shake gently, folks). If it's not runny, and if it stays in place - you're done. 

Size does not matter
as long as there's jam inside :)

Before spooning jam in jars, I like to mix it up a bit more, off the heat. I do that so that the steam comes out, and therefore I reduce the risk of something cracking. Then I spoon the jam in jars.
We don't use lids. We prefer cellophane. And we do that "after the crust has formed on top of jam" - in translation: tomorrow. :) Two layers of cellophane, and we place labels between them, in that way we don't have to get all messed up by glue (me, yes.. mom, I can't use glue and NOT make a total mess.. fine, I admit that). And also, by putting the label between two sheets of cellophane, you don't risk it getting scraped off by friction of smeared off by grease..

This was literally my look
when I placed all my 14 jars of jam on the shelf
(yellow one made 6 jars, and got really sturdy,
colored one made 8 jars and is more lava-like)

.
.
.

Before I go, here's something
that we make if all else fails:

Cheap, simple - frugal!

I hope you stuck around to the end.
Have a great Saturday!
Marija

8 comments:

  1. Good job jobbed! I would be proud, too! I really really want to make my own jams, I make tomato chutney but that's about it. It doesn't seem right, somehow, to me to buy a bushel of berries or any fruit at the store and go home and can them. I want to grow my own lovely things and make them into jams. But first we have to find the perfect house for us which isn't rented. Reading your article makes me want to hurry this process up and get in the kitchen. So, as you can see, I really enjoyed this post and would love to see and read more like them from you!
    Now where's my jar?! Hehehe

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, Krystle...
      My dear gal, I know what you're feeling. You see, for an odd five years of my life, I have lived in a city and I missed out five jamming seasons. Five! That was enough for me to start thinking about my priorities; and I've realized that I just simply love making my own preserves, and keeping a larder filled with something I've made.. there is a genuine sense of safety when you know there's food stored for winter.

      Marija

      Delete
  2. My grandmother would make grape jelly and crab apple jelly each year and she would seal the jars with a good layer of paraffin wax.

    Do you really test the sugar by blowing bubbles with a bubble wand? That is so interesting. I never heard of that before.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey DAwn.
      YES, the bubble-blowing test is a real thing. As a matter of fact, it's a fool-proof way of telling if your sugar is at it's best and ready to receive the fruit mixture. I know it might come as something no one sane would do.. but there you have it; it has been done in our home ever since I can remember (and much before then)

      Marija

      Delete
  3. I'd never heard of the bubble-blowing technique, that's excellent.

    My husband is the jam maker in our house, so I'm not sure what methods he uses for checking the set. Here in the UK you can buy special 'jam sugar' with pectin already in it for making jam - but, as you say, why bother when you can just use some apple? Cherry plums aren't common here, though I think there are some in a local country park - I bought a jar of cherry plum jam from the volunteer organisation that looks after it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mim, darling,
      Give your husband my best. :)
      Trust me with this: you can make jam out of almost any green (not only fruit). I have seen ladies making pumpkin jam, and I had the pleasure of tasting it - it was a bliss.

      Marija

      Delete
  4. Way to go, dear gal!!! I grew up canning, preserving and jam making up a storm with my mom, grandmas, and one of elderly neighbours (the sweetest Portuguese lady named Maria who always called my mom "Linda", even though her name is Lynn), but rarely do so any more, as we no longer get the glut of free or very cheap fruit that my family used to back then. Plus, my limited medical diet does prevent me from eating a lot of foods, so there isn't as much of a variety that it would make sense for me to can. I still like make batches of freezer jam every year though, when I can - with my all-time favourite being my mom's recipe for raspberry pear jam that she's been making since I was about nine years old.

    Again, awesome work - thank you very much for taking us along on the exciting canning process with you, sweet dear.

    Oodles of hugs & happy mid-summer wishes,
    ♥ Jessica

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jess,

      On a jam-making days, I particularly give thoughts to times gone by.. at least in our area (we no longer practice the old skill). Back in the day, ladies gathered, and did their preserves together.. making food for winter in great company - I think that would be a day well spent. :)

      Marija

      Delete