Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The reality of fruit math

This seasons bounty of stone fruit here in the Bay is one of the largest bumper crops I have ever witnessed in my cooking career. From little French plums with the bright yellow interiors, to Santa Rosa plums big sweet and crimson. I have been traveling to backyards, road sides and orchards with bucket in hand and dreams of sugar plum fairies helping me process all this fruit. Before this year BFIC(before friend in cheeses)I had no idea how much fruit it takes to create a jar of jelly,so lets do the math .
Yesterday ten a.m. drove to Willow Glen to a private home to pick about 65 to 70 lb of amazing plums. done by noon with a tub full of near perfect aubergine orbs. Then off to the kitchen. In a stock pot(big enough to fit a ten year old boy) rinsed the fruit de leaved and added zest of three lemons ,split a vanilla bean and added two gallons of water and a good toss of sea salt. 12:30pm. Cooked the plum slurry for about an hour to soften and let the color of the skins bring its bit to the plum party. Take off heat and strain three times with smaller mesh each time for fining. One p.m. Now 65-70 lbs of fruit yielded me as you see in photo only 21 gallons of juice that still needs one more strain after completely chilled so solids fall to bottom. Four hours later not one jar of finished product......

LAVENDER PLUM JELLY
Ball canning recipe with my twist.(use Ball recipes for the formula then color outside of the lines from there)

Have 8 80z jars sterilized and lids ready to go. Keep jars warm in low heat 150 in oven so when adding molten jelly your jars won't explode.FYI.

5cups of strained fined Plum juice
1cup unfiltered cold press apple juice(I do Mac apples from my tree)
pinch of salt
split of 1/4 vanilla bean scrape seeds good visual in the finished product
6T of prepared crystal pectin (dextrose,fruit pectin. citric acid)
Big non reactive pot please
add above ingredients and whisk the pectin til completely dissolved. 
Bring to a full roiling boil . boiling like it is about to crawl up side of pot and spill over.

Now for every cup of sugar have a t. of Lavender let sugar/lavender infuse at least six hours..
7.5C of Lavender infused sugar.
Add to the boiling plum party whisking constantly till all sugar is fully dissolved. Important for no lumpy bumpy jelly.
Bring back to the full roiling boil and set timer for one minute. No more no less ONE MINUTE. so don't got pour a drink or feed the Squirrel stay put and watch this pot.
Pull pot after the minute is up.
Remove jars from oven and do not place directly on counter temp can explode the jars. Keep on sheet pan or sil pat. Get your canning funnel (of course its sterilized) and pour the jelly into a tempered glass measuring cup with a pouring lip.
fill your jars leave an air gap  then  with a spoon skim the top of jelly to remove scum and the lavender heads. I lets a few float on top for a very pretty visual when the jelly is opened. Lid . Then off to the steam bath they go. 10 min please.

Pull from steam pot. Let cool and set 24 hour and don't move them til they completely set.

Viola 10 hours later 65-70 lbs of fruit is now in jars with a crystalline shimmer and unlimited possibilities in the world of pairing. So when you raise your eye at my $8.00price tag for 8 oz do remember all the love, care, time and labour it took to bring you this jar of summer from your own "backyard"it really is an investment in your community, culinary happiness and the preservation of American food traditions. Not ofter such importance passes your lips.

 Literally a jar of self harvested local small batch jelly takes over 24 hours before one jar is ready. From picking, processing, fining, producing, setting it takes time alot of time to make sure you have access to a product only time can give. If I cut corners and shaved time you could tell and tell me an earful of why it is just not the same....I refuse to short cut. For me this is the time very well spent for you for me and for food in general. Respect. 

with cheese, french toast, salumi , foie gras or on your fingers this sexy little minx will be a favorite for sure.

Thank you and this is my story and I'm stickin to it.

Mama has purple fingers,sore feet and smile....wink


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