by Mary Senft
5 lb Santa Rosa Plums
1 cup water
5-6 lb. sugar (instead of 8 1/2 in old MCP recipes.)
Wash the fruit, cut out the pits and put the rest through a grinder (or food processor -grate). Place the pulp it in a large kettle with the water. Bring to the boil, then simmer until the plums are soft. Usually 6-8 minutes. Continue to cook until the pulp is reduced and thickened, stirring with a wooden spoon to prevent it burning on the bottom of the pan. Add the sugar and stir until it has completely dissolved, add the MCP, then bring the jam to a rolling boil and boil hard until setting point is reached. Usually when you can’t stir down the boil. Cook one minute longer. Skim off any foam off the surface, then ladle into hot sterilized canning jars. Wipe rims and attach lids or seal with paraffin. If using lids, water boil as below.
If you wish to make a berry jam without commercial pectin you can try this. Generally 9 cups of crushed berries (blackberry, blueberry, boysenberry etc.) to six cups of sugar.
Combine the berries and sugar; bring to a careful boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Cook rapidly to or almost to the jellying point. This point is reached when the jam no longer runs off the spoon as a liquid but jells together enough to run off a cool metal spoon like a sheet. By using a thermometer the jam should be some 8 degrees F. higher than the boiling point of water. 220 degrees at sea level.
Constantly stir as the mixture thickens, (I would also have a separate spoon to skim off the foam at the top). Pour, boiling hot, into hot jars (it is very sad to see your efforts crack a cool jar and run all over the table — been there! Leave a head space. Tighten caps and process for 15 minutes in boiling water bath. Should make 4 pints.
If you want your jam to be seedless, heat the berries until soft, and press through a sieve before proceeding as above.
A totally different taste involves using fruit juices herbs and some vinegar. One I tried used Pineapple-orange juice, with lemon thyme and white vinegar.
Strawberry juice, mint and white vinegar.
Nectarine, Peach with cilantro and rice vinegar.
Haven’t been brave enough to do any others.
Let me know of your more unusual jams or jellies. Shiro plum would be awesome! Some of my own favorites included Black-cap raspberries and a great sour cherry jam. Native berries such as Salal can be mixed with apples to make a GREAT jelly. Aronia berries should also be on your homestead self sufficiency plan.
I also remember my Mom telling that her mother never used Pectin, but that she always cut up some not so ripe apples, cooking them down until they jellied. Reason being that using some under ripe fruit had a higher pectin content. Generally one used one- fourth under ripe to three-fourths full ripe to produce a decent jelly.
(C) Herb Senft 2003