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Saturday, July 28, 2012

The making of the sand plum jelly

Alright, I know that some of you are going to have absolutely no interest in this whatsoever. But I've had so many questions since I've started talking about the sand plums so I thought that I would dedicate a post or three to the actual process of making the jelly. I know when I first started making it, I had to search and search to find a good recipe, and I've kind of tweaked it to make it my own, so here it is. Feel free to use it - and if you do, let me know how it turns out for you!

Once you have them picked, this is what they look like. I found out accidentally last year (I think it was last year) that if you just leave them sit out somewhere for a few days, they will ripen some more. I usually put them in a couple of pans and sit them on the kitchen table until I have time to get to them. They don't seem to attract bugs or fruit flies or anything like that, but I've also not left them out for more than a couple of days.

When I get around to it, I sit down and pick out all of the stems and leaves and other assorted crap that ends up in them. This is also a good time to pick out the ones that are really not ripe (usually green and really hard) or the ones that have gone well beyond ripe and have turned into hard little prunes. They will almost always have that white film on them - I'm not sure what it is exactly, but from the research that I've done it appears to be harmless.

Once I get all of the stems and leaves pulled out, I throw the whole mess of them in the sink and fill it with cold water to wash the fruit. I get in up to my elbows and stir them around and rub them between my hands to get any loose dirt (and some of the white film) off of them. Once they are done, I put them in my big roasting pan and add some water.

How much water? Uh....some? There isn't an exact science to this part. I don't cover them because then the juice comes out too weak. I put maybe about 2/3 as much water in as there is fruit.

Now you're saying "huh?" and I'm trying to figure out how to explain it. Let's say that the fruit is about 3" deep in your pan. Put about 2" of water in it. And then put a lid on it. Too much water makes the juice weak, and too little doesn't cook the fruit. The fruit that isn't in the water gets cooked by the steam, which is why it's important to keep the lid on it while they're cooking.

I cook them on about medium for....a while. I don't cook them on high because then they boil over and it's just one more mess to clean up later. I get them to boil and let them simmer for I don't know how long - depends usually on how many other things I'm doing at the same time. I'd say 45 minutes is a good estimate. When they're done, they split open and they get really mushy.

I usually dip out some of the liquid too, with a clear plastic measuring cup - if it looks like juice and not water, then chances are that they're done.

Now the really messy part starts - notice the towels? This is the system that I use, and it works for me. I take the pan off of the stove and put it on the table, and use a measuring cup to scoop the fruit into the colander that's on top of another big measuring cup (you can use a bowl, or whatever you have). Then I use the musher (that's a technical term, by the way) to mush the fruit through the colander.

Speaking of the colander..... isn't it pretty? Anyone else have any of that antique Tupperware from the 70's that's this color? Kind of hard to tell from the picture, but this is the old orange Tupperware. Mom used this colander all of the time while I was growing up, and now it's mine. And I love it. Melted bottom and all.

This is by far the messiest part of this process, but it's also the best one for stress relief. I won't even tell you who all I was thinking of as I was using the musher to mush fruit tonight...... anyway, mush it all down. Chunks of the fruit will also go through the colander, but that's ok at this point. The pits and the skins stay in the colander, and turn into what I call "plum vomit". Seriously - look at the last picture above and tell me that it doesn't look like vomit....? It does. And the texture of it.....*shudder*

Anyway.... dump the plum vomit in the trash can. Beware though - if you're working with a lot of plums and doing a lot of juicing, the trash bag will become heavy very quickly. It's not a bad idea to double it ahead of time, just to be safe. Seriously. Trust me on that one.

After you mush some and the juice and goo starts collecting in the cup/bowl under the colander, it's time to strain it. You can use cheesecloth or a strainer - whatever you prefer. This is the first time that I've used a strainer, and let me tell you - I love it. I can pour it in and walk away and let it do its thing, and I don't have to fight with the cheesecloth. But, at this point it's really personal preference. You'll find if you're using the strainer, the goo will start to plug it up as it settles and the juice will stop running through it - at this point I usually just take a large spoon and sort of scrape around the inside of the strainer to loosen up the goo, and the juice will start flowing through again.

Keep doing this until you have all of your plums mushed and strained. I mush and strain a little bit at a time because let's face it - I'm clumsy. If I'm going to spill, I'm only going to spill a small amount rather than the entire batch. Once I get it all strained, I usually run it through the strainer at least 2 more times, just to make sure that it's really strained - The Dude would say that I'm OCD about it, but it's just one of those things.

Once you get it all strained, you can continue on to actually making the jelly if you have time, or you can refrigerate or even freeze the juice until you get around to doing it. I'm opting to just stick it in the fridge for now because I'm planning on making the jelly within the next few days.

But yeah, remember how I said I'm clumsy? That's why I use the funnel. After putting this amount of work into it, I'm not spilling it. For now, I'm keeping it in empty (washed) milk jugs in the fridge.

And finally, the last step of tonight....because after being on my feet for the past couple of hours working on this, and then realizing that the reason the house is so hot is not only because of the heat from the stove but because someone's little fingers turned the air conditioning up to 84.... the last step is to dig around in the very back of the fridge and to swipe one of The Dude's beers that's been in there since his birthday in May. It's not even the right brand for me, but it's cold. And it works.

I'm planning to actually make the jelly in the next couple of days. The Dude wants to help me, so it might have to wait until Monday because of our schedules - but when we do it, we'll be sure to take pictures and post that entire process too. And then I'll link the blog posts together to make it easier for anyone who actually wants to use my instructions to do it themselves.

Stay tuned!


The rest of the instructions can now be found by clicking HERE!!!


  1. Yum. I expect a tester jar. :) Just sayin. ;) Like I said on FB...I can only hope to one day be as domesticated as you! :P

  2. LOL... wait, this means domestication? The Dude doesn't domesticate, man...

  3. Sorry to break it to ya, Dude......but it does, and you are. ;)

  4. SOUNDS DELISH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1



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