Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Why can't I upload photos today? I actually took some, and now technology is being fiendish. How surprising. (edited to add: after some whining on other people's blogs, discovered how to get round Blogger's current glitch) I am writing from Adelaide, where we are having a jolly family celebration, and in about ten minutes we will be up to our necks in relatives. This will be quite fun, actually, it is just tragic that we had to get on a plane to do it. Why don't all my family move to Tasmania? I just don't understand. Being on a plane is exactly my idea of what Hell is like. Being bossed around by disembodied voices with perfect vowels, then sitting in a small confined space with a sick headache, something akin to morning sickness. With children. You understand, I DO NOT LIKE TO TRAVEL.
I do not like other people's mugs, their brands of tea bags, or their weather. I do like my father-in-law's apricot tree, which is splendid, and laden with ripe apricots. But this makes me sad because at home my apricots are ripening WITHOUT ME. Which brings me to the subject of this post, which is Jelly. We have lovely house sitters who are taking great care of the cats and the plants, but even the nicest house sitters can't be expected to make jam for one, and the red currants were perfect..
So it was 10 o'clock the night before our departure, and I was in the last stage of making jelly with the red currants and the cherry plums. The only good reason, that I can see, that you would ever make jelly, is because you have fruit that has bits in it (like red currants), or stones that are impossible to remove (like tiny yellow cherry plums). For jelly, you gently boil the fruit without adding water, squishing it down with a potato masher, and after it is well mashed and liquidized, boiling merrily for ten minutes or so, you add the sugar, equal in weight to the raw fruit. This you cook, merrily, or not so merrily, as the case may be, until the mixture 'jells', then you sieve it messily into another saucepan, then bottle it. There is a whole extra layer of possibility for enormous mess here, compared to ordinary jam making.
The recipe I ordinarily follow for jelly suggests eight minutes as ample time for 'jelling', so because I was rather tired and fancied not being up till midnight, I went with that, and didn't test for 'jelling' as I normally would. My usual method is to put two saucers in the freezer, and as the mixture starts looking like jam I put a blob on one saucer, pop it back in the freezer for a minute or two, then take it out and push the blob with my finger. If it wrinkles, it is ready. If not, I rinse the saucer, pop it back in the freezer, then take out the other saucer and test again, because the trick to 'jelling' is that it happens inside of a ten minute window, and you don't want to be hacking jam out of the jar using a butter knife like an ice pick. Well, that is not our problem with the latest batch of jelly, or should I say, delicious pancake syrup... eight minutes was not enough, Delia.
Life lessons learned: a) If there is something you do well, keep doing it the way you always do it. b) Always scribble notes on recipes. The year between making jelly is too long to remember that eight minutes is not enough..
Another note: I read on Pinterest that pouring boiling water into jam jars and leaving it to sit a few minutes makes the label peel off like magic. True. Who knew, something useful on Pinterest. Of course you still have to rub it with eucalyptus oil to get off the sticky spot under the label, but still, very useful tip.
Yet another note: Making jelly late at night before you go on a family trip is a really silly idea.
Solution: Don't go on family trips. Get them all to move to your state instead. Come on people..