Father’s Day weekend I went to Mangum, OK to visit the grandparents. They have a farm, and it has always been one of my favorite places to visit. There are just so many different things to do and experience in the country that we don’t have in the city. During my visit I had sand plums on my mind. I’ve only picked them a time or two and only had sand plum jelly a few times, but I thought it might be the right time of year for them. Saturday afternoon my grandpa (who refuses to ever eat sand plum jelly again after having so much growing up) was so sweet and took me to one of his pastures to pick a bucket full of plums. We got lucky and there were tons of ripe ones!
I ended up with over 7 lbs of plums!
I’ve never made jelly or canned anything before, but other than my small second degree burn mishap my jelly was a delicious success (16 jars of success worth!). If your going to make some jelly or jam check out Sure Jell’s instructions and amount charts. The instructions also come in their box of pectin, and it’s very detailed for all types of jam (bits of fruit) and jelly (fruit juice).
Sand Plum Jelly
Sand plums (5 lbs is what the Sure Jell recipe calls for)
A Box of pectin
New canning seals
8 oz canning jars
1. Pick your plums, remove the stems, sort out the ripe ones and put them in the fridge, put the unripe ones in a paper bag to ripen for a day or two, throw out the ones that are bad or holey.
2. When you’re ready to cook down your plums wash them all (throw out any more bad ones you find, and cut off any suspicious looking spots or holes) and put them in a pot. I read some things that said just cover them with water, some said don’t quite cover them, and the Sure Jell instructions said 5 lbs of plums to 1 1/2 c. of water. I didn’t quite cover mine (my grandma told me with Sure Jell you could probably make water jelly if you wanted) and mine all jelled properly.
3. Don’t boil the plums just let them simmer, and as they get hot mash them with a potato masher. I decided mine were ready when I didn’t see anymore whole plums.
4. Strain the contents of your pot to remove the skins and pits. A lot of what I read said you want to strain it really well so the juice is very clear (no scientific reason just for pretty, clear jelly). That seemed like a waste to me, so I just used a colander and let some of the pulp through. At this point you can store the juice in the fridge until you’re ready to make your jelly.
5. From here just follow the Sure Jell instructions! I’d recommend reading through them a time or two before you start so you know what you’re supposed to do and also have all your tools within arms reach and ready to go.
– I didn’t buy any special canning tools (other than the pectin, jars, and lids). You can do this with regular metal tongs, a tall soup pot (I stuck a metal veggie steamer deal in the bottom of mine to keep the jars from touching the bottom and sides), and a regular funnel.
– Do use a funnel! I’m not sure if the Sure Jell instructions didn’t mention the funnel or what, but I forgot to use mine until I ladled boiling hot jelly over my hand while trying to ladle it into the jar. Definitely not a fun experience.
– Test to make sure the water will cover your jars in your boiling water bath before you start.
– If you’re still feeling nervous Google for some jelly canning tips. I read this site through a couple of times and found the tips and instructions really helpful.
– Heat your jars in a 200 degree oven until you’re ready to fill them.
Happy jelly making!