19 August 2008

Fun in the Kitchen

I have been busy in the kitchen these last two days. On Sunday, I attacked my kitchen to-do list. I made laundry soap, sausage seasoning, sauerkraut, ground some rye into flour and started a sourdough starter.

Then yesterday I made some plum jam with my mom. I had picked half a bucket of plums from a generous neighbor and wanted to try my and at canning. My mom had never canned either, so we found a recipe here. It is a highly detailed recipe. I think the most precise measurement on it says to use equal parts plums and sugar. Of course, it forgets to tell you to sieve the puree (who wants pits in their jam?). Using this recipe and Sharon's instructions on water bath canning, we got some yummy jam. It took us a while, and since we didn't have anything useful like a jar lifter or a funnel, we made a big mess. The jam kept spitting out at us as it boiled while we tried to get it up to the 220° jelly mark on my candy thermometer. We gave up at 215° and said, "Well, if it is runny, so be it." It gelled up beautifully, though. The hardest part was getting the processed jars out of the boilng water. Since we had no jar lifter, I used regular tongs to pull the empty jars out after sterilization, but they weren't strong enough to lift the filled jars (and I couldn't stick one side of the tongs into the jar and lif tthem up sideways, either). We made four jars, and the first three I lifted out using two wooden spoons pressed tightly around the rims. The last jar I just reached in with my already wet hot mitts and grabbed it out.They sealed almost instantly, so I think we managed okay.

Last night before going to bed, I had more plum puree that I wanted to make into fruit leather. Of course, I had no parchment paper or plastic wrap or wax paper, so I looked in my food drying book. It suggested using brown gift wrap. I don't think I have ever seen brown gift wrap, so I was trying to decide between cutting open a paper bag and using wrapping paper. I decided the wrappig paper was more slippery, so I used that. I spread out my puree and slid my three trays into the dehydrator and went to bed. This morning, only one tray had dried, the other two had started to dry around the edges only. Of course, now I can't get the paper off the leather. I got out a cookie sheet and spread the undried puree from the other two trays on it and stuck it in the oven with the pilot light on. I plan to make bread later today, so perhaps the leather will dry better then. If I had been fully awake when I pulled out the cookie sheet, I would have greased it with either butter or more likely coconut oil. Oh well. I still have more plums.

Moira wants to make a plum pie today. I am ready to get rid of the ever-present fruit flies. The plums aren't even very old, but if one leaks at all, the flies are there. I also found some cherries I had brought home last week in my fridge, so maybe today I will try making some cherry jam.

1 comment:

Kati said...

yeah for jelly making! I hope your plum jelly is perfectly delicious. Can you share a pic of it with us. That's one of my favorite things about homemade jams & jellies, the jewel-tones of the jars when held up to sunlight. *grin* I did some crab-apple jelly last year as my first experiment in jelly making. Turned out very tart, and lovely on an english muffin! (And such a beautiful bright ruby-red.)

Also, can you share your sauerkraut directions/recipe? That's one thing we're talking about with our abundance of cabbage this year, but we've never made it before. So a recipe would be largely helpful.

Thanks for visiting my place!