(A Repost of an article I wrote here
with additional text for OS.)
In 2010, it may seem an odd thing to be making your own jelly when so many wonderful varieties are so widely available. Instead of running out to Whole Foods and buying some fabulously labeled variety imported from France, from Spain, or even from Bulgaria, I get a kick out of making use of the fruit that would ordinarily drop, unused and unwanted from the fruit trees in a neighbor’s yard. I enjoy the process and I enjoy the results, rows of sparkling, jeweled-like jars filled with tasty treats just begging for a piece of toast.
When I’m finished with the creation, I mentally pat myself on the back that if the economy crashes (if!) that I will have skills to help us make it through, skills that many do not have. I can bake bread from scratch, make my own spaghetti sauce, my own pasta, grow and can my own vegetables and fruits, hem and mend, make simple alterations, fix plumbing, do simple wiring, and, of course, the object of this post, make jelly.
Here's a tutorial on making plum jelly.
Take a mess of plums. Here I have a medium size box about 3/4 full of plums. These are a bit under-ripe, which works best for jam- and jelly-type concoctions as it has more natural pectin and firmer fruit.
Wash fruit and remove leaves, stems and cut out damaged areas.
Plums are seeded and quartered. Some don't suggest this, but experience says you get the juice more easily if you do this. Add water not to cover, but 'til you see it at least to the bottom of the top layer of fruit. Cover and cook on medium heat. Stir frequently to prevent scorching. You want to cook it until it is soft and mushy.
I then usually mash it a bit with a potato masher before going on to the next step: straining.
I was unable to find my jelly bag and holder, so this is my improvisation. I took a clean canvas bag and shortened it. Since the holder was missing, I looked around for a substitute and decided this three tier plate holder might work. In the future I will make two changes. I will redo the bag so that it is a bit shorter and so that it comes to a point in the center rather than leaving it in a rectangular shape. Additionally, I will either find a tall three wick candle holder (with the glass piece removed) or hang it from a heavy duty ceiling hook over a bowl.
As you can see, I altered the way I hung the bag to raise it higher above the pan and so that one corner hung lower enabling it to have a good drip point.
Measure the juice and figure 3/4 to 1 cup of sugar for each cup of juice. Pour the juice into a heavy bottom pot and cook over medium to medium high heat.
I am adding a splash or two of port for flavor.
In the background you may notice a small pot sterilizing the lids. What I forgot to mention is that the jars must be clean and sterilized. The heat of the dishwasher rinse and heated dry cycle work for this. (Yours should have a heated water and heated dry cycle.)
Add the juice of one small lemon or
1/2 large lemon to each quart or so of juice. You will probably need to add pectin, about a box per quart or so of juice. Bring the juice to a full rolling boil. Skim off foam. Then add the sugar all at once. Stir til all sugar is dissolved. Add a teaspoon or so of butter if you want to keep the foaming down. Bring to a rolling boil again and boil without stirring for at least five minutes. Checking sheeting (how the juice runs off the side of a spoon) or using a candy thermometer to bring the juice to about 220 degrees.
Fill prepared jars to within 1/4 inch of the rim. Seal and allow jars to cool. After nearly cool, turn lids an extra 1/4 turn. If re-using jars like babyfood jars, the lids will not seal properly, so you must use melted parafin or keep jelly in refrigerator.
(Toss the contents of the jelly bag into your compost pile and clean and boil your bag for future use.)
The finished product: YUMMY!