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Middleburg, FL, United States
Thursday, April 22, 2010

PostHeaderIcon Preserving last Falls harvest

When we moved to Germany in the Summer of 2006 what excited me the most was the yard full of apple, “Zwetschgen” and cherry trees we would have on our rented property.
I especially missed Zwetschgen (similar to a plum, small, oval and the pit releases easily) while living overseas. You don’t know how much something means to you until it’s gone and gone it was for many years while I lived away from Germany.
Now we are to move overseas again but this time I will take part of what’s near and dear to me with me and that’s “Zwetschgenmus” (plum jam).
I got thinking since it’s Earth Day today I will do some canning. See using your own fruits and preserving them is something you can do to help Mother Earth.
How come you ask? I see it first of all as using what you have instead of buying more. You don’t have to go out every time you need a jar of jam and considering where those jams often come from (half around the world or across the huge USA) preventing fossil fuels to be wasted in that process.
Another reason to me is that I know how that fruit grew. There where no pesticides or chemical fertilizers used which protects the environment especially our pollinators. My last reason is that I don’t end up with jars and jars of those store bought jams that will either go into a landfill or in a recycling center to do “who knows what” with them. I use reusable twist off glasses that are sold here for just that reason, Jam making.
Two nights ago I got out a couple gallon size bags full of Zwetschgen from the freezer and while I was at it the rest of the rhubarb as well.
I defrosted them overnight in the fridge. The next day I weight them and added half that weight in 2x1 Jam Sugar.
Zwetschgen have enough pectin so they would do fine on their own with just the same amount of sugar and maybe a little lemon juice and a slow cook to thicken it. So if you want to try Jam’n, can’t get Jam sugar and have no access to pectin go that route.
After mixing the fruit with the sugar I let it stand for at least one hour (this time I  put them in the fridge overnight) three is better before I make Jam. This will give the sugar time to pull out the juice from the fruit.
When I am ready  to “Jam” I make sure that I have everything I need on hand and ready to go. That means clean Jars (a cycle in the dishwasher would be perfect) and lids. For Jam making I use Twist off Jars and the open Kettle method.
I know that the USDA is against this method even for fruits (maybe for fear of lawsuits) but this method has been used forever here in Germany and other parts of the world especially for fruit. If you use this method you do it at your own risk and make sure you have enough acid in the fruits or veggies that you can. To be save just add a little lemon juice. I use this method only for Jams and relishes/chutneys. For all other veggies, fruits, meat (chicken broth, cooked/browned hamburger or cooked sausage only nothing raw) I use the hot water bath method.
In case you are a Food preserver and use a pressure canner (I know this is the only method the USDA approves) great. I just want to add that pressure canners are unknown here in Germany. We do use pressure cookers for cooking but pressure canners are not available here.  
I keep my jars and lids in very hot water until I need them.  To avoid that the jars burst when I fill them with the boiling jam I place the jar on a wet hot rag.
2010-04-222For the Zwetschgen Jam I used cinnamon and real vanilla (scrape out the pods) to spice it up. The left over pods I place in a jar and fill it with sugar. Just shake it a few times and a few days later you have homemade vanilla sugar. Much better than artificial vanilla flavor or even real vanilla flavor.
Vanilla works very well with Zwetschgen/Plum. After I fill the jar I close the lid and place it upside down on a hot wet towel. Before closing the jar I wipe off the top of the jar to make sure no jam is stuck there.
I leave the jars on the wet towel until they are cooled off. The vacuum that is created will keep these jars for a long time (at least three years in our house).
The rhubarb jam I made is just rhubarb and Jam sugar and nothing else added. If you have never “Jam’d” before why not give it a try with some strawberries or other fruits in season depending where you live. In our area that would be rhubarb. I heard California is already knee deep into strawberries. Yum!
                                  Happy Yam’n and Happy Earth Day!


ap269 said...

I also make "Pflaumenmus" every year - it's one of my favorite spreads!!! You should run and hide from the canning police, though, otherwise you'll be in canning jail soon ;o). Isn't it interesting how the USDA talks about pressure canning for certain foods, and we don't even have pressure canners here and are still alive? I wonder how that can be?!

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