Have you ever tasted sand plum jelly? It’s delicious! My mom has made it several times and I almost always benefit from her labors. I am not sure where her sand plums have come from, but I know I had never hunted or picked them before this
week. I decided I wanted to go looking for these little wild plums and make some jelly. Sand plums, also known as Chickasaw plum, Cherokee plum, or Sandhill plum (Prunus angustifolia Marshall), are native fruit-producing shrubs or small trees in Oklahoma. Use of sand plums range from cover for native bird species to making jams, jellies, and wine from the fruit.
I was not warned about the thorny nature of the bushes. I was warned about the chiggers. I used bug spray. After 3 trips out looking and picking, I managed to collect 37 chiggers.
The plums are about the size of a large cherry, so you need a lot of them to actually make jelly. Later today I am taking my collection to my mom’s house so we can make the jelly together. Making jelly is not difficult, but as with any chore, it’s more fun when done together. I owe my co-workers some jars of this plum-colored goodness because I most definitely did not collect these sand plums alone and I am definitely not the only one who can boast a spattering of 152 chiggers.
I will try to take some picture of the jelly making process and share an update with you after we’ve made the jelly. I sure hope it is worth the sweat, thorns, and 517 chiggers.
Here’s a recipe from Kraft. (*I am not endorsing Kraft brands, but it is merely an example of one of the brands available for pectin.)
You can follow the link for the Plum Jelly Recipe.
On Friday, I took my sand plums to my mom’s house and we made Sand Plum Jam. We decided we didn’t really have the proper equipment to strain out all the pulp, and that was okay. We wanted to do the jam to make it easier on ourselves by not having to strain it more and also the processing time for jam was 10 minutes. If you process your jam/jelly for 10 minutes or longer you do not need to sterilize the jars. So, making jam eliminated that extra step.
First, we washed the plums and picked out any bad ones. Then we cooked them down in just a little bit of water. Next, we strained the juice out. Like I said before, we only had a regular colander so a little pulp got through into our juice.
After we got the juice extracted from our fruit, we brought it up to a full rolling boil and added our sugar. Then we let that boil again for a bit. That’s it for the “cooking.” It’s good to scrape off and discard the foamy stuff at that will float up as the jelly cools. We ladled our jam into half-pint jars and processed them in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
For jams and jellies, you want a quarter inch headspace. That is the space between the top of the jam and the bottom of the lid should be 1/4 inch. Canning jars are standard, and the threads at the neck of the jar for the screw bands will be the same on every brand. You can measure 1/4 inch headspace by lining up your food with the top point of the screw band thread:
Before putting the lids on, I wiped the rims of the jars with a damp paper towel. Any sugar or fruit on the rim could keep the jar from sealing.
Once out of the canner, we set the jars on a towel. Placing the hot jars on a cold surface could cause your jars to break.
We had fun making this jam. It was quick and easy. I hope you are inspired to try your hand and jelly/jam making with your fruit collection!