Mission: Wild Plum Jelly

Two summers ago perfectly timed rains brought an abundance of wild flowers and wild plums around my husband’s family land near Seymour, Texas. We spent many hours picking the tiny wild plums (which look more like grapes than plums) to juice and make into wild plum jelly.

I grew up in a small town in West Texas where homemade jelly was readily available from all of my grandmothers “expert” friends. Needless to say, I’ve never attempted to make jelly, jam or even preserves for that matter, so when my mother-in-law offered to teach lessons I jumped at the opportunity to learn.

We began with frozen plum juice, Sure Jell fruit pectin and LOTS of sugar. Believe me this is definitely not sugar-free or remotely low-calorie jelly. The Sure Jell comes with lots of detailed instructions and recipes for making jelly, jam and preserves. So, like I said we started with lots of sugar.

Lauren, Marsha and 6.5 cups of sugar

My sister-in-law and cousin were my fellow classmates and despite the tedious work, we had a blast! One thing I can always say is that I was blessed to marry into an incredible family, and oddly enough, Lauren and I have a very similar sense of humor. I know I can always count on her to recognize my quotes and random songs from Disney movies.

After adding the sugar there is a LOT of stirring involved. Luckily there were three of us to split up the tasks. I’m not sure how one makes jelly alone, but it must require extra hands and arms. I was definitely thankful for my comrades.

Stir stir stir!

 Meanwhile, we had jars and lids in hot water to sterilize them. See the lids in the background?

I’m not sure what happens if your jars aren’t sterilized, but I can assume the eventual result would be green fuzzy jelly and I’m not really into green fuzzy plum jelly, or any kind of green fuzzy jelly for that matter.

Maybe I just like to say green fuzzy jelly.

Once the juice, sugar and jelly have come to a rolling boil, we used some nifty little tools specifically for jelly making. Unfortunately I did not manage to get pictures of them, so google it. 🙂

Using a measuring cup and special funnel we filled the sterilized jars with the still fairly liquid jelly. An interesting point that I learned was to remove bubbles from the top of the jars to make the jelly nice and pretty.

Pretty jelly makers!

After filling the jars, removing the bubbles and adding lids, we placed the jars in a bath of boiling water to seal them. This requires a pretty big pot and my mother-in-law had a handy-dandy rack to lower and lift the jars in and out of the water bath. She always has some sort of cool toy lying around.

In the end we had a fantastic time and learned a lifelong skill. My grandmother told me that it would have made my great-grandmother very proud. She loved canning, pickling and making jelly. I remember shelves upon shelves in her basement lined with salsa, pickles and other canned goodies. I’m pretty sure I get my love of Dr. Pepper and Oreos from her too. Sadly I didn’t inherit her skill for crochet… she tried to teach me so many times, but all I can manage to crochet is a chain or an oddly shaped pot holder.

Final product!

The team minus Marsha

I have several folders of photos backed up for blog posts, so I’ll try to get more of those posted in the next few weeks. For those of you who are wondering… we do actually have a fence and a patio now. I have pictures and will post them soon!

3 thoughts on “Mission: Wild Plum Jelly

  1. Jenna, in all the years of making jelly and watching Maw Maw make it we never put it in a water bath. Just had the jars hot and the rings & centers in boiling water for 15 min or so, poured the jelly in, put the lids on and as it cooled the lids sealed. I have used melted parafin poured on top of the hot jelly and sealed it that way. Then put lids on. Don’t remember any ever going bad. Anyway you do it homemade wild plum jelly is always a super treat. Glad you had the opportunity to do it. Hope to see you during Christmas if you have time. Love you. Granny

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