Thursday, May 13, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

Personal Victory: BF has given me the go to start calling him by name. So, from now on BF is Will! :) Too bad this post is Will-free.

Many of you know I am super close with my family, because, well, they're awesome.  My parents have been married for over 25 yrs, and my younger sister and I are like BFFs (even more so than me and mod podge).  Our holidays are always spent together, usually with some sort of fruity cocktail or a new glass of wine that my mom wants to try. They are always low key- just how we like them.  For Mother's Day, we were able to go to the most amazing seafood restaurant, Topwater Grill, that has remodeled and reopened since Hurricane Ike. As expected, it was delish. Afterwards, we made jelly.
What most of you DON'T know is that my dad inherited a tree farm from my Paw-Paw before he passed away in 2002. "A tree farm?!" you ask.  We have about 50 acres in east Texas, right off I-10. Nothing to write home about, but it did make for some fun family get-togethers. We used to cut down our own Christmas trees, ride around on the tractor, and pick mayhaw berries.  These berries are what we used to make the jelly. Last weekend, my dad picked roughly 50 lbs of berries.  We are first time jelly-makers, but armed with 2 different recipes, we set off.  Mayhaw jelly has a very light, but sweet taste. Don't expect anything overwhelming, just a nice, fresh flavor.
Paw-Paw standing in front of a blooming mayhaw tree.
First you sort the desirable berries from the undesirables. Think Charlie & the Chocolate Factory's Veruca Salt. If its a bad egg, it goes down the garbage shoot. (We just read this book in class, so yes, its on my mind...)  After you have picked a gallon of berries, put them in a large pot and add 3 quarts of water, bring to a boil, and then simmer for 30 min. This makes the berries nice and mushy.  Strain berries through a colander, while slightly pushing with a spoon. Then pour juice through 2-3 layers of wet cheese cloth.  You don't want any seeds, skin, or anything else in your nice, pink juice.
Pour 4 cups of the strained mayhaw juice into a large pot.  Bring to a boil.  Once boiling, add one box of pectin- this is the stuff that makes it jelly. Bring back to a hard boil. Once this is boiling, pour 4 cups of sugar in all at once. Whisk together until sugar is dissolved. Once this is boiling again, hard boil for 1 min and 15 sec., while stirring constantly. Yes, the 15 seconds matter and yes, your nose will tell you if you've heated the mixture for too long. If this happens, throw it away. Believe me, its worth starting over.

You will be left with something kind of frothy, kind of jelly, but super delicious smelling. Be sure to skim off all that foam. By removing the foam, you'll leave yourself a nice clear mixture to pour into the jars.  The foam won't hurt anything, or taste bad, it just doesn't look as pretty. And if you're going to put this much work into making something, you darn well better make it pretty! :)

Once you have finished skimming your soon-to-be-jelly, pour into sterilized* canning jars.  Screw the lids on tightly. Return filled jars to boiling water for 5 minutes. This seals the jars, so that the safety button eventually pops down.  When the 5 minutes is up, carefully remove jars from water. Sidenote- its ridiculously entertaining to be sitting around chatting, when, "Pop!" one of your jars if finished! Jars must sit 24 hrs before opening.  Once the 24 hrs is up, feel free to open and enjoy, and of course share!  This recipe makes roughly 44 oz of jelly.
* To sterilize, place glass jars only into boiling water for 10 minutes. Place lids in water for the last minute or two.  Your jars MUST be hot when you put the hot jelly mixture into them, so only remove from the boiling water right before you are ready to pour!

Our family thoroughly enjoyed spending the time together to make all this jelly.  We have slightly tweaked the recipes to make our own, so what you just read is our recipe, not what we used the first go 'round.  Have you ever made jelly? Any tips for us newbies??

1 comment:

  1. Loved this post and the picture of your Paw Paw! I would love to try this!!