Don’t you love jelly? Don’t you love it on toast and in plain yogurt? (Side note: part of my crazy dream the other night involved me making yogurt because I won a heating pad from some charity auction. Number one sign you think about yogurt too much.)
Do you have a freezer-full of beach plums from last year’s harvest? No? Well, fret not, I’m pretty sure you can also make this with grapes. What, you don’t have any concord grapes lying around? Well, sorry. This is all for show then. Actually, depending on where you live, you may have never even heard of beach plums. They’re indigenous to the northeast coastal areas, only growing in sandy soils (hello, all of Long Island). My dad is a native plant species buff, and in his opinion no Long Island garden would be complete without a few bushes of these tiny, slightly bitter plums. He makes a take-the-paint-off-a-new-car-strong type of liquor out of these babies, but wanted me to explore a less esophagus-ruining way to enjoy them.
I’ve never made jelly before. I’ve only made jam, and only of the strawberry-rhubarb variety (thrice!). At least I think I made jam. It could’ve been preserves. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure what the differences are. Jelly, jam, preserves, marmalade, fruit spreads, conserves. I can’t sign on to know what is what. I think I’m a jam fan though, because I think jam means that parts of the fruit are incorporated into it. To the best of my admittedly limited knowledge, this is jelly because it is made entirely from the juice of the fruit and doesn’t contain any actual fruit parts.
I’m posting this recipe even though the final product was a little…off. It was more gloppy and less that nice cleaving you get with grape jelly. I think it’s because I didn’t add any pectin. The recipe said that including slightly less ripe fruits would contribute all the pectin this jelly requires. Trouble was that our frozen goods didn’t contain any underripe fruit at all. They were all gloriously purple, and apparently, gloriously pectin-less.
But you know what? It tastes good on toast and it is really unclear to me what else can be done with 10 cups of beach plums, so let’s just eat it and move on.
Mom’s No Pectin Grape or Beach Plum Jelly
About 8-10 c. fruit or more (depending on pot)
Sugar (1 c. for each c. of juice)
Clean, wash fruit and take off all stems and pick out bad ones. Put in large kettle. Squash a bit to make a little juice and add 1/2 cup water. Put on high and then simmer covered, stirring once in a while so fruit does not stick to pot until juices are out of fruit (skins are loose and some of the pits too). Drain or drip on cheese cloth for 2-3 hours.
Measure juice into very large pot (no more than 6 cups of juice at a time). For each cup of juice, you will be using 1 cup of sugar. Put sugar in separate bowl or pot with handle. Heat juice until it comes to hard rolling boil. Add sugar very gradually and stir until dissolved, keeping mixture boiling (do not allow boiling to stop).
After last sugar is placed in and dissolved completely, let boil; do not touch (jellying time) for 3 minutes. Then begin testing by dipping soup spoon and watching the drips of the spoon slowly dripping back to pot. If it drips like water, jelly is not ready. If it drips very slowly, one drop at a time, and drops joining together as it drops to back to pot, then it is ready. Do not boil any more than 6 minutes.
Look up “jelly testing” in cookbooks with pictures to tell you when it is ready. Place jelly in sterilized jars. Let cool; do not move until fully cooled. Seal with wax. 7 cups juice plus 7 cups sugar equals 8 jars jelly.