I know I’ve been a terrible blogger this summer. Our dear readers have been feeling neglected, and so has our rural property. We did visit the farm in mid July, but it was so overgrown, and our car was so swarmed by flying pests, we literally put the car in reverse and headed back to the beautiful bug- free twin cities. Shortest. Farm. Visit. Ever.
in August we managed a few visits, and some nice upgrades. After some (ahem, 4 years) of nagging, I finally got Steve to order a new seat for the tractor. No more spiders biting our rear ends while mowing! And the mowing was quite the endeavor, after 6 weeks of neglect.
Here we go! Time to tackle the wilds of our driveway. The tractor also got new ball bearings (whatever those are), and a new gas cap that tells us how much gas is left in the tank. I requested a cup holder and MP3 player, but but I guess those will have to wait.
I had ambitions to grow cantaloupe, broccoli, carrots, sunflowers, zucchini and pumpkins this summer. Back on Earth Day, Ivan and I planted seeds. We got them into their nicely fenced-in space, and then let nature do her thing. That means we didn’t do anything. Surprise! We got a healthy crop of weeds and grass- completely untouched by pesky deer. Lucky us.
At least we got one sunflower. I guess that’s something. I weeded, but I suspect it was too little, too late.
Upon mowing the driveway I spotted some fruit growing on some trees in the woods. What on earth? I consulted with the mother-in-law and she confirmed: Wild plums. Doesn’t that sound exciting?! But they are all yellow and tiny. MIL insists they are ripe, but Steve and I were not convinced. Steve had a new power hedge trimmer, so he cleared some brush so we could harvest those tiny plums- we filled a bag and brought those babies home.
A quick internet search turned up some promising-looking plum jam recipes. I also considered this an opportunity to try canning for the first time. Steve got canning supplies for Christmas a few years back- was it finally time to dig these out? I peeked into my bag of plums and guess what: they had ripened to a lovely red color!
Allison’s Beginners Guide to Canning Wild Plum Jam
1. Wait for plums to look more ripe.
2. Rummage through drawers to find mysterious canning related supplies that you received several years ago.
3. After failing to find the book you got, rely on short YouTube videos for information on canning. Disregard ominous warnings such as “inevitably steamy and hot work”, and “burn potential” as you prepare to do canning.
4. So some prep work while your child is at preschool, so he can be “included” in “making the jam” at a later stage.
5. Purchase jam jars, pectin, and wax (because who knows what you might actually need).
6. Begin recipe. Boil plums and then let cool. Remove seeds. I found using my hands worked best.
7. Add sugar and pectin. Cook and test for thickness.
8. Realize you were supposed to boil your cans so they would be sterile. Quickly try to boil a huge pot of water. Invite Steve to take cute pictures for blog while you wait.
9. Fill jars with plum jam. Invite child to “help” by watching.
10. Lower cans into boiling water. Marvel at the lack of burns on your hands, and your brilliant thinking to turn on vent fan and open windows in advance. Such a pro!
11. Celebrate your success by inviting your “helper” to pose for a photo. When he refuses, use iPad to achieve desired snap. And there you have it! Canning plum Jam in 11 moderately challenging steps!
I didn’t find canning to be too difficult. Maybe I’ll do some more.
We are headed into apple season- I hope you all have a smooth back-to-school season. We now have a kindergartener here. More to come…