Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Plum Crazy

Lately I have taken notice that several people who contribute to this blog do a lot of canning. I am really impressed by the list of items they have preserved this season. Secretly, I am jealous as I am not much of a canning person. Though I LOVE seeing things I have bottled, my joy is usually short-lived. Once I open a jar of anything I have canned, I end up dumping all my hard work down the drain. My jam turns out looking like syrup with green fuzzy stuff growing on the inside of the jar, applesauce looks like rotten pie filling, my pie filling looks like a glob of toxic sludge (my husband’s definition- I’m not insulted, I thought he was being rather kind) certainly not fit for a pie, and my pickles are soggy and bitter.

Freezer jam. I actually make freezer jam, but really that’s nothing to brag about since a first grader can make freezer jam.

Really, it’s just best if I don’t even bother to attempt to can food. I have learned my lesson. I have pretty much given up the idea of filling our pantry with home grown/canned items and instead, I try to hit the case lot sales for our food storage. No sense putting my families life at risk.

Putting aside my feelings of “canning inadequacy” I did decide to try one more thing that I had never attempted before. I went down to my dad’s to visit for a couple of days. He had two buckets of plums from his tree that he didn’t want to go to waste. He had been drying apple slices all week long so I came up with the brilliant idea that we could use his food dehydrator and make some fruit leather with the plums. How hard could it be?

I found a simple recipe on the computer and we proceeded to cut up the fruit. We decided to blend the fruit rather than “mash” it like the directions said. My dad was excited to use this high tech blender he had bought from my cousin who works for the manufacture of this supposedly wonderful device. The blender looked rather complicated to me and I was a little leery to use it, but my dad was so proud to try out his new gadget. So I shrugged it off and dumped the fruit in. I should have followed my instinct and gone for the blender made in the 50’s at the back of the cupboard-- “Good Ol’ Reliable,” she had never let us down yet.

I put the weird looking lid on the space age high tech machine and turned it on for all of two seconds. BOOM! The lid went flying off and purple mush flew all over the kitchen until my dad ran over to turn off the machine. I stood there in shock. Finally I looked at my dad. He had plum puree running down his face and in his hair. I couldn’t see his eyes through his glasses because they were completely coated with the globby mess. We had purple goop dripping off the ceiling and running down the walls. Clumps of plums and goo was slopping off my head and down my shirt. It was everywhere.

My dad took off his glasses and said, “What did you do?” I was speechless. I had no idea what I had done. After 45 mins., we had the kitchen cleaned up and we were ready to try it again. “I’ll do it this time,” he said, grabbing the lid from my hand. He put the lid on that crazy blender, tapped it a few times for good measure, and turned on the machine. BOOM! The lid sailed off and puree was everywhere AGAIN! I looked at my dad and said, “What did you do?” After a few choice words, “Ol’ Reliable” was looking better and better to him. We set about cleaning the kitchen for a second time. Then he called my cousin to find out what the lid’s problem was. It never occurred to either of us that it had anything to do with the operator of the machine. It was the lid's fault. Third time, after being given specific instructions to work the lid, it happened again. So once more we cleaned up the purple mess. By this time you’d think we would have learned our lesson, given up, and called it a day, but oh no, we’re a stubborn lot. This lid would not get the best of us. It didn‘t take us quite as long to clean up the kitchen this time. We had gotten it down to a system. The kitchen was cleaned and we finally figured out how to work the blasted lid on the fourth try. There was enough puree to make a batch of leather. We did it! We were so excited!

Several hours later, we checked our leather. It was done. Once it was cool, we sat down to strip the leather away from the waxed paper and planned to roll into plastic wrap. There was such a sense of accomplishment to know we had finally achieved our goal after such an eventful morning!

We started to pull the leather away from the waxed paper, but what did we find? To our dismay, we learned that the leather had cooked into the wax paper and wouldn’t peel away from it!! In the end, we had to throw it all away.

The good news is, my dad’s kitchen is really clean.

With the rest of the plums we made a small (very small) batch of freezer jam.

This is why I don’t can.


Anna Buttimore said...

In other words, "Those that can can, do."

Don't worry Jeri, I don't even know what canning is, and have no idea what freezer jam is either. So you're one step ahead of me.

Cheri J. Crane said...

Jeri, I loved the title of your post. ;) The post itself was hilarious---I'm just sorry you and your dad experienced such an adventure. It is good to know that I'm not the only one who makes a mess out of her kitchen during canning mode. =D

I tried making fruit leather out of some plums my mother gave me one year. My experience was similar to yours---it all stuck to the wax paper. Good times.