It’s time to venture outside of the garden again to find this week’s new food to try. It’s the time of year to find Sandhill Plums growing in the wild. These plums are an unusual fruit because they thrive in ditches rather than a well-tended garden.
So it’s time to take that drive in the country again, but keep your eyes open for those purple plums. They are ready to pick once they have started to turn purple, starting out green – just make sure they aren’t soft. The collection of the Sand Hill Plums isn’t nearly as treacherous as the blackberries in last week’s column. No thorns, no scratches – just be sure to wear boots because you will have to get down into the ditch to pick them.
Once home, one of my favorite things to do with them is make Sand Hill Plum Jam. It’s easy to make and is a great way to enjoy the taste of the plums for months to come.
Until next time, happy garden-fresh eating!
Julie Clements is a Butler County Master Gardener.
Share your ideas for garden-fresh recipes or ways to preserve at firstname.lastname@example.org and some will be featured in upcoming columns.
Sand Hill Plum Jelly
(makes 8 half-pint jars)
5 pounds plums, halved and pitted
4 cups water
1 package (1 3/4 ounces) pectin
7 1/2 cups sugar
In a large pot, combine plums and water. Simmer 30 minutes. Pour water and plums into a strainer and let stand 10 minutes or until all of the water has drained through into a bowl (it should measure 5 1/2 cups). * Note: To make it more like jam, mash bits of the plums through the strainer with the liquid.
Pour liquid back into the pan and add the pectin. Stirring constantly, bring to a boil. Add sugar and return to a full boil. Stir constantly and let boil one minute.
Remove from heat and skim off any foam. Pour into hot canning jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace and process in a water bath for five minutes.