Sadly, I still have bronchitis. Slowly getting better, very slowly. The challenge for this month was shrubs, a vinegar fruit drink, or jelly. I wanted to do the shrub, but the stupid illness made things difficult. I had never heard of them, but they sound intriguing. People who were making them kept talking about how yummy they are. I’m trying to imagine that from a vinegar drink. I hope to explore that in the future.
I ended up making jelly from store bought fruit juice. I really wanted plum, but I couldn’t find any plum juice. Blackberry Cherry sounded interesting, though. I used to do this a lot in high school. I have made jelly from fruit, too, but if I have fruit I prefer to make preserves and use the whole fruit.
With this jelly project I did it two ways. I did a cooked version and a no cook version using the instructions from the pectin box. I wasn’t planning on doing two batches. I was almost done with the cooked version before I realized I was following the instructions for the no cook version. Not following very well, obviously. I kept making assumptions.
I was looking for something simple because I still get winded if I’m on my feet too long. I was all bummed. Doing a no cook freezer jelly would have been a new direction for me. I decided to go ahead and make another batch according to the instructions.
With the no cook I got four pints out of it. I only got two pints out of the cooked jelly. The juice was reduced quite a bit while I was trying to get it to a rolling boil. It was boiling enough to steam, but never getting up to the roll that you need for jelly. My Craigslist stove does not heat things very well. It is a hindrance to me with both canning and pressure cooking. I will shop for a more powerful stove one day.
I learned a few things in this challenge…
- I don’t have to can it
This was the first time I made jelly without the intention of putting it in a water bath canner to seal. The batches are small enough I can just store it in the fridge. I just needed to replenish our supply. It was nice to take that step out even though I enjoy canning and seeing those jars on the shelf.
- Freezer jam is a viable option
I really glazed over those freezer jam recipes because I love canning so much. It was so simple to make. Just mix the juice and the sugar and let it sit a bit to dissolve. Then mix the pectin with some hot water and stir it in. The instructions said to boil the pectin, but I just poured boiling water from my electric kettle and dissolved it. I will say it hasn’t set yet, but the instructions said it make take up to a week to set. I’m not in a hurry, though.
- Quit being cheap
I was trying to save money getting the stove on craigslist, but I ended up with a tool that doesn’t work for me. I need the right tools for the job and sometimes those don’t come cheaply. I need to give myself permission to spend some money.
- Sometimes doing things simply is more of a challenge
During this long bout of illness I’m learning how I need to let things go and quit making things so complicated. I couldn’t even do the simple freezer jam recipe without complicating it up. Being sick has made me realize how I need to work more at being simple and doing things with more simplicity. Easier said than done for me.
I guess that’s it for now. Next month’s challenge is quick pickles. I’m not sure what direction I will go with that without cukes from the garden. We’ll see what happens.