|Dad picks from an unusually tall bush.|
Sandplums grow on bushes and usually ripen in early to mid July. The blossoms are susceptible to a late freeze and in our area there are years when there are no plums. The plums vary in size from a little smaller to a little larger than a cherry and are a clingstone fruit. The flavor is very tangy and they are used almost exclusively to make jelly and jam.
|These bushes were loaded with lovely plums.|
|Most bushes are 3-4 feet high.|
|Jelly (front) or Jam (back)? In my unofficial taste test they both tasted yummy.|
When you're making sandplum jelly there are a few things to consider.
- How red do want your jelly? If really red is important to you allow the plums to spend a day out on the counter. They will continue to ripen. You can also pick out most of the less ripe plums, but leave some in (because that's what Mom said you should do).
- How clear do you want your jelly? Sparkling clear jelly is a source of pride for some and it is indeed quite beautiful. The clearest jelly is made by straining the juice through cheesecloth lined sieve without squeezing, though a kitchen towel has been known to fill for the cheesecloth on occasion.
- How quickly do you want to make your jelly? Straining juice through cheesecloth takes considerable time and if you're in a hurry, it is perfectly fine to run your plums through a sieve and allow the pulp to be incorporated. However, you are now making jam instead of jelly.
|Wash the plums well and pick through and discard any blemished fruit.|
|When you don't see any whole plums it is ready to strain.|
|This sieve has seen many years of service.|
Sterilize 8 half pint jars according to standard canning procedures.
Measure 6 cups of sandplum juice and return to big pot.
Mix in 6 tablespoons real fruit pectin.
|After the juice and pectin reach a rolling boil, add the sugar.|
|Pectin in a jar is very handy.|
Bring juice and pectin mixture to a rolling boil over medium-high heat while stirring. Add sugar all at once and return to a rolling boil that cannot be stirred down. Boil for 1 minute.
|Ladle jelly into jars filling nearly to the top.|
Process the jars in a water bath according to standard canning procedures for 5 minutes.
Remove them from the water bath and set on the counter to cool. Check seals after 24 hours.
|Place sterilized lids on jars and screw on rings.|
Should you pick more or less plums than this recipe calls for I think you'll find this an easily adaptable recipe. You may notice that the ratio is 1 tablespoon pectin and 1 cup sugar for each cup of juice. I have not tried making very large or very small recipes, but if you wish to vary the amount by a cup or two, I think you'll be just fine. Just follow the directions listed above. It is also perfectly permissible to add a little water to the juice to get the required amount.
|Jam, in the top jar, does not glow like the jelly, but its taste is very good and it goes together quickly.|