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. :)
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 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!