While I was at BlogPaws, a group of my friends traveled to Western Kansas and waded through thorny thickets to harvest Sand Hill plums. You may recall my jelly-making experience with last year's crop; this year the idea was to include the whole gang in more stages of the process.
This past Sunday was jelly and jam making day. If you click through to last year's photos, you can see that the plums are usually tiny—about the size of cherries. For some reason (global climate change?), they grew monstrously huge this year and they were unusually abundant.
The pickers brought back five 5-gallon buckets of them, which yielded more than 100 jars of jam and jelly and five half-gallon bottles of plum wine.
I arrived at my friend Christy's house a little after 9:00 a.m. Cagey had spent the night there, so they had a good head start on sterilizing jelly jars and making delicious salads for lunch.
There were five of us there dividing up the labor throughout the day. The shifts from task to task were mostly unspoken: we would move from cooking down plums on the stove to boiling water to sterilizing the wine bottles to draining juice to mashing pulp to measuring sugar to mixing and cooking jelly to filling jars to sealing the jars in a water bath. Whatever needed doing, someone was there to step up and get it done in between shooing small children out of the danger zone and stopping for snacks and drinks.
I couldn't stay all afternoon because I had a three o'clock meeting, but we had four batches of jelly and jam finished before I left. I took a few jars home and was sad that I didn't manage to leave with any plum/jalapeño jelly, but I'll get some later. Each of us will have plenty to last us throughout the year, even if we give some away.
I'm really enjoying this annual tradition and I hope I can make it out to pick plums next year. Not that I won't enjoy the results of the harvest either way.