Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Plum Jam

     So Linda has been down in Oregon for only two days and already I'm in a big jam...plum jam that is.  I'm taking advantage of her absence to turn the remainder of our plum harvest into jam.  She seems to have an anxiety attack every time I'm doing a canning project in "her" kitchen so it is a good thing to do while she is out of town.  I probably use the kitchen more than she does these days, so maybe we should call it "our" kitchen. However much I've taken over the kitchen in usage, she is still rather possessive of it.
This is our entire Santa Rosa Plum harvest

    Our plum tree is an interesting story in itself(at least to a fruit geek like myself). It originated as a gift from my sweet wife who was indulging my fetish for collecting fruit trees.  She purchased a Friar plum from Costco.  I had never heard of a Friar plum so I went on the internet and looked up the variety on the UC-Davis website. The description I found for Friar plum was surprising, "mealy and insipid". I had never read such a negative description of any named fruit variety. It begged the question, "Why did someone even bother to name it?"  I also asked myself why anyone was actually propagating a mealy and insipid plum and selling it to the public.  The Friar plum was lopped off the rootstock the following winter and I grafted on a start from our Santa Rosa plum, a variety that I knew I would like.  Over the next few years I grafted on two other varieties, Shiro and Obilnaya. Shiro is an early yellow plum while Obilnaya is an early purple plum.

    About six years have passed since I planted the plum tree and this is the first year I've harvested a significant amount of fruit from all three varieties.  They don't bloom at the same time so the weather doesn't always allow all three varieties to get pollinated every year. The Shiro branches bloom first, followed by the Obilnaya branches, with the Santa Rosa branches blooming last.  Having three different varieties on the same tree spreads out the harvest so we are able to eat fresh plums for about a month. Also it provides a hedge against our variable spring weather.  Last year I had no Shiro plums while the year before there was no fruit on the Obilnaya branches. The Santa Rosa is a freestone plum and is therefore more suitable to use for jam than the other two varieties. The Shiro and Obilnaya both taste fine but fruit clinging to the stones make them inconvenient for jam.
Plum Jam

      In addition to making jam I've had some other activities to help me stay out of trouble in Linda's absence.  I did a shift at one of the bee booths at the Evergreen State Fair on Monday. I'm scheduled for another shift on Thursday.  I'm also trying to get the rest of the gray Icelandic wool spun up.  I've got 12 balls finished and probably have another eight to go. Several years ago I got three Icelandic fleeces in a swap with a bee store customer.  The Icelandic yarn is pretty soft and I think it works well in a sweater. The white and dark gray fleeces have already been spun and converted into sweaters by Grandma Cozy. This particular batch of yarn is designated to go to the Tunnell family after Beth figures out what sweater pattern she wants Grandma Cozy to use.

    I have to admit that I am more than a little envious of Linda's ability to spend a week with grandkids while I am literally stuck minding the store. Here I am posting pictures about making jam while she is posting pictures of fun times with grandkids.  While I have mixed feelings about selling the bee store, I really am looking forward to having the freedom to spend more time with family.  

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