You may recall my efforts to make damson gin* earlier in the year…
The Plum Lady (a lady who grows many lesser known varieties of plumliness near Levin – not her real name of course) kindly sold us four kilos of her own personal damson stash after the season had finished. I had kinda forgotten about damsons until it was too late, but Louis seems to be able to talk people into doing things like that. The plums had been sitting in her fridge for a while, and smelt… well… rather like a certain toddlers’ nappy does if they’ve been eating a lot of plums. I washed them and sorted them very carefully into two bowls – gin grade and jelly grade. There were enough plums for one giant Agee jar of gin, and then about three kilos for jelly.
What I hadn’t quite fathomed was that those three kilos have been occupying at least a quarter of the space in my freezer for the last four months. A full freezer is an efficient freezer, I know, but sometimes you need a bit of room to move without things falling out as you hunt for some cheese. Did you know you can freeze feta? Did you know you can buy Kaimai feta ‘offcuts’ from the Kaimai Cheese Factory shop for a tiny sum?
So… I made some jelly today!
The axe is the strongest handle in the shed. A trick I picked up from none other than Louis’ ma. There was so much liquid that I had to do two batches with the sugar. So this lot dripped all day while the first two litres out of the bag boiled with the sugar.
Part of my slowness in making jelly this year has been to do with jars. Every year we move house, and every year I give all the jars I have been saving to Louis’ mum in a ‘I don’t want to move house with these damned things’ frenzy, only to find, three weeks later, that I want to make jelly. Rather than go raid the boxes I had given Nicola like I did last year, I just started eating Vegemite again. And some of the glasses of past jelly batches worked their way back to me via thoughtful friends.
Colour, clarity, set… well, once I cottoned on to the fact the jelly was setting everywhere (spoon, side of pot, drips on stovetop) except for the chilled plate, I’m sure it will set just fine. I snuck four apples in the fruit boil-up because I seem to remember having the same problem last year – the ‘it not setting on the plate’ bit. Last years’ batch was also fine, though it had a slightly unnerving after taste. Which I put down to the fruit itself. I’m hoping the apple will take the edge off.
Now I’m just off to put the lids on the old Vegemite jars… for some reason I forgot I had lids for those, even though getting the rubber bands on them was a complete pain in the rear. Once I’ve boiled and bottled the second lot of juice I think I’ll have enough jelly for an endless pancake breakfast. Now for that bag of feijoa skins in the freezer… and the quince cores… let us not forget the quince cores…
* As yet unopened. I think it can come out in September. But as the quince and feijoa gins didn’t have a particular timeframe, I think they may be brought out at the Rata Parta. After the toddlers have left, of course.