Thursday, February 9, 2012

Peach Jelly in February

Did you feel the earth shake in South Mississippi Monday?  No?  It must have been a localized event.  Local, that is, to Pine Level, the epicenter of activity found on Havard Lane, plus or minus a few inches from Mama's huge chest freezer.  Like any and everything else, she stockpiles perishable food items for future use; not a bad idea, even I have a freezer, it's just that things are forgotten in there.

I was sent to look for more English pea seeds.  Everybody knows you store seeds in the freezer from one year to the next.  I was looking for pea seeds and found several nondescript items of interest to any student of cryogenics.  At one point, I thought I'd seen John Wayne's horse's left hind food (not really) but you get the idea.  It was time to do away with a bit of unrecognizable matter.  Convincing Mama that matter is neither created nor destroyed expended a good bit of creative energy as I convinced her that Rooster and Hennies would love the okra (I could tell by the seed) and desiccated blueberries.  But that's all another story for another time...

I didn't find pea seeds but I did find a half gallon of juice.  Since Mama's favorite game for strengthening her memory is not writing what's what on the freezer storage bags and going through great mental exercise to remember, we both knew it was juice, only discovering what kind after it was thawed.  Peach juice!  It's an excellent game;  Mama thoroughly did mind flips yesterday remembering she had put the juice in there last June with the little late-season yellow cling peaches.

So much for planting English peas and folding totes for shipping.  This morning was spent readying everything for peach jelly; mid-day was spent cleaning up the aftermath (the phrase "a hot sticky mess" comes to mind), and this afternoon was spent back making a Sam's list because there's less than 25 pounds of sugar stored.  The mayhaws are blooming:  jelly season is about to be in full swing again.

Making jelly in the winter months is one of Mama's favorite pass times.  The kitchen can always stand to be a little warmer.  I'm convinced that she and Lucifer have entered into some sort of non-binding contract for her to help him warm Hades (they're both too smart to enter into a full contract with each other {I'm pretty sure she's a lot scarier to deal with when her mind's set she's right}), she's that cold-natured and they both can use the heat.  Two burners turned on wide-open helped achieve her required indoor temp of 90 this morning because she used the big canning kettle to make a double batch of jelly.

There are lots of recipes that can't be effectively doubled, pectin jelly is not one of them.  The only difficulty with doubling jellies, jams, and preserves (to my knowledge) is having a pot large enough to handle the foam when they're almost done.  And don't forget to make the pot non-reactive.  We use ceramic on steel.

So what's needed to make peach jelly?

8 cups peach juice

11 cups sugar

And a mother to measure it out for you
1/4 cup lemon juice (pretend you see it, okay?)

2 boxes of SureJel fruit pectin

Clean sterile jars
I keep my jars going in the microwave on low power while 
the jelly is making with a little water inside.  It keeps them hot 
but DRY - easier to handle.

Lids and bands
This is Mama's lid pot, it's sole function is to heat the lids.

Mix fruit pectin, peach juice, and lemon juice in large non-reactive pot, bringing to a roiling boil.
This only looks like a roiling boil.  It's not.
How could I tell?  It could be stirred down.
You won't be able to stir down a roiling boil.
Add sugar.  

Get everything necessary ready to can the jelly.
I'm OCD enough that I'll have it all out before this point
in the jelly making.  You can see I'm helping Mama today
because her anodized aluminum canning funnel and the plate
the jars set on to be filled is already out before needed.
In real life, with Mama making the jelly without me there, it's only
after adding the sugar that she thinks about these other things.

Stir continually.

When the jelly comes to a roiling boil again, time for one minute.
lol...  What would you do without me to challenge your imaginations?
The microwave timer says, "60"

See how big it foams up?  A lesser pot wouldn't have
contained the foam.  This stuff is wicked hot, too so be careful!

Turn heat off.

Skim fob (foam) from top of jelly.

I was so busy helping that photos were forgotten but at this point, it's a small matter of getting the jelly into the jars, putting on the lids that have been boiled for a minute (or so) and kept hot, screwing on the bands, and letting cool.

The directions in the SureJel pack said a recipe would make seven cups.  If there's one unwritten constant in the universe, it's that a batch of jelly will never yield exactly the same amount regardless of how carefully all the ingredients are measured.  There were twelve cups and a partial cup of jelly.  The fob, by the way, is best consumed immediately with pasty white bread.  Do it once, just for me.

And that's all there is to it!  There's a bit of science involved but not rocket science, unless you blow up the water in the microwave.  Follow the amounts of juice and sugar listed in the SureJel directions and you'll be a pro like Mama in no time!

Y'all enjoy.  
Mama and I travel back to New Orleans this Tuesday to discuss the mini-sternotomy AVR with the surgeon.  It should be interesting!  Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers.  We're all ready for Mama to be strong again...


  1. Thanks for the receipe, and know that you and Mama will be in my thoughts and prayers until after her appointment on Tuesday!

  2. Wow! I felt like I was right there in the kitchen, watching you two. Love, hugs and prayers...