Canning, Recipes

Shiro Plum Jam – a.k.a. Sour Patch Kids Jam

Have you ever heard of a Shiro Plum? Me either. Not until I stumbled upon them at my local farmers market this weekend. I love buying fruits and veggies to can at the farmers market and went last Sunday morning to pick up peaches for a batch of peach  butter (yum). I noticed these bright yellow plums with an irresistible price tag: $1/pint. I had no idea what they were or what I would make, but I took five pints home with me.

Shiro PlumsEver

After I bought them, I heard the man at the farmstand tell another customer that the Shiro Plums are sour — I was nervous, but excited to try to make something delicious with them.

After finishing up a batch of pasta sauce and a batch of peach butter (yes, I was a canning overachiever last weekend), I started working on the Shiro Plum jam. I looked up recipes online, but most called for way more plums than I’d purchased and vanilla bean. I don’t stock that in my kitchen, so I scrapped those ideas.

Instead, I looked to my trusty canning book, the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. If you like canning and you don’t own this book, buy it! No, I do not get money from sharing this book with you — although Ball should pay me to be their spokesperson. I’d rock it.

Anyway, I digress. I found a plum jam recipe and decided to go for it, knowing it wasn’t meant for the Shiro variety. Here is my tweaked version of the Ball plum jam recipe.

  • 5 lbs. of Shiro Plums
  • 50 grams of powdered pectin
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 8 cups of sugar

Five pounds of plums gets you about 5-6 cups of plum pulp. To get the plum pulp, all you need to do is break the skin of the Shiro Plum and squeeze the pulp out. It is super easy, super slimy and super fun. Remove the peels. Remove the pit. No blanching necessary.

When all of your plums are pitted and peeled, I suggest putting your pulp through a food processor. Just pulse it a few times, no need to pulverize it. I suggest doing this because the pulp of the Shiro plum can be a bit stringy — sort of like the stringy pulp of pumpkins.

Then, boil your pulp w/ the half cup of water. When it reaches a boil, turn down the heat and whisk in your pectin. When your pectin has been added back in, add in your 8 cups of sugar. You are probably thinking, “Dear sweet lord, that is diabetes in a pot.” Well, yeah. It is Just don’t eat it all yourself and you’ll be fine. It’s definitely more sugar than a lot of the Ball recipes call for, but I didn’t want to stray especially since the plums are more sour than normal plums.

Cook the jam until it starts to thicken. I learned a trick from my trusty canning book — put a plate in the freezer and let it chill. When you want to test the stage of your jam, place a spoonful on the cold plate, then run your finger through it. If the jam parts like the Red Sea and stays parted — congrats, you are the Moses of jam and it is ready to can! If it closes back up immediately, it need to cook longer before it is ready to set.

Shiro Jam

I canned the jam in 10 8-oz. jars. TEN. That means I paid about $.50 per jar (I’d calculate w/ sugar and pectin added, but I hate math). That’s pretty darn good. Process your jars in your water bath for 10 minutes, then take those bad boys out and they are good to go.

I saved a little of the jam so I could try it without needed to pop open a jar and it is so yummy. SO YUMMY. It tastes like Mother Nature’s version of Sour Patch Kids.

shiro jam2

Ever heard of Shiro Plums? Ever made jam from it? I only saw a recipe or two online using Shiro Plums, so I’m interested to hear if anyone else has discovered these little yellow beauties.

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Canning, Garden, Recipes

Mint Jelly

I’ve wanted to make mint jelly for the past few years, but never grew enough mint to make it happen. Mint is basically a tasty weed and takes over a garden, so I’ve never planted mine in the ground. Just in a small pot… and even though I have a green thumb in my garden, I have blacker than black thumb for potted plants.

Lucky me, my neighbor offered me a bunch of hers this past weekend, so I got to try my hand at making some jelly! The recipe I followed was from my Ball recipe book  — I highly recommend their home preserving book. It’s one of my favorites! (I get no money from the sale of this book, in case you care) — and I doubled it to make 9 jars instead of 4 or 5.

The mint jelly recipe was a cool one to try for me because I usually make jam. With jam, you use the whole fruit. With jelly, you are using just the liquid. So I got to use a fancy jelly straining bag for the first time! (nerd alert!)

After boiling the mint leaves in water for a bit, I poured the entire mixture into the jelly bag, which then separated the leaves from the mint water mixture.

mintjelly-straining-web

Once I got the amount I needed, I put it back into the pot and added in the sugar, lemon juice and liquid pectin.

A few things I learned:

1. Mint jelly is only green if you add food coloring. Otherwise, it’s a yellow-y color.

2. Even if you aren’t making a huge batch of jam or jelly, use a big pot! I have a stock pot, but opted for a smaller pot for this batch of jelly. HUGE mistake. The jelly bubbled over at one point and has permanently (or so it seems) stickied my stove. Joy.

3. Follow the recipe, even if your jelly isn’t super jelly-like when it is suggesting you take it off the heat. I have a hard time with this because in my mind it needs to be jelly before it is canned. But once your jelly cools and sits for a few days, it will gel up perfectly. If you over boil, it will be rubbery and gross. Listen to the experts — they know what they are talking about (mostly).

By doubling my recipe, I was able to get nine jars of mint jelly.

mintjelly-web

I got a text from my mom (my biggest jelly and jam fan) this morning saying how good the jelly was on her lamb dinner last night. Glad to have found another recipe that I like for canning.

All in all, this took me about 2.5 hours from start to finish, start being taking out supplies and picking the mint, finish being clean-up and jar storage. Not bad.

 

Canning, Recipes

A weekend of Applesauce

My eyes were definitely bigger than my stomach this weekend. I went to our local market to buy apples for applesauce, and the price was so astonishingly great that I bought two bushels instead of one. Yay apples!

Apples_Bags

I spent all day Sunday (from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) making applesauce — with a little help from my older sister who was in town — and only got through one bushel. Considering it took seven hours, I don’t know when I’ll get to using the next bushel — hopefully one night this week. I think I’ll turn the remainder into apple butter. Yum!

Anyway, if you want to read about how I make applesauce or see one of the few videos I’ve made for A Smith of All Trades, check out my applesauce post from 2012. My dad, little sister and I have made applesauce each year for the past three years. After the first year and a limited supply of sauce, I started doing a batch with the family and a batch on my own. This weekend was my batch and I made 28 jars (24 quarts, 4 pints). Next weekend, the plan is to do it again with my dad. Double the help = half the production time!

Apples_Cans

In my 2012 post I shared a bunch of different add-ins for the applesauce. It is a family tradition to doctor the applesauce with things like vanilla, cinnamon red hots, brandy, candy canes — all sorts of stuff! This year, I added in fireball whisky. I’d never had it before, but our family friend suggested the cinnamon flavor would taste great in applesauce. Well, he was right. It might be my new favorite thing to add in!