Jam and jelly are my favorite Christmas gifts

My most favoritist favorite thing about summer (other than the Boundary Waters!!) is foraging for berries. I take Fridays off work for most of June and July, heading to the homestead on Thursday night so I can spent Friday in the woods.

We have wild blueberries, raspberries, and chokecherries galore as well as some wild strawberries, blackberries, and an assortment of others. This past summer, I loaded my Frost River rolldown satchel that I use as a foraging bag with over four gallons of chokecherries, six of raspberries, and over three of blueberries. I also spent some quality time at our local organic berry patch loading up on several pounds of strawberries.

What does all of that mean for late fall and early winter? Jam and jelly making!

I’ve spent the last several days jamming out (I’m so witty!) in the kitchen churning out pint after half-pint after teaser (4 oz) of jelly in preparation for Christmas.

A successful day!

My favorite treats to make this year were wild raspberry, wild blueberry, wild chokecherry, dark chocolate wild raspberry (heaven on earth!), and bumbleberry (raspberry, blueberry, strawberry, and blackberry).

I’ll write a post sometime about the whole experience (including always using my great-great grandmother’s pot and my husband’s great-grandmother’s funnel) but the star of the day today is getting everything all buttoned up and under the tree!

Spoof guarding the treats (or preparing to knock over the tree)

Hope you’re all have a marvelous time preparing for the holidays and are looking forward to some wonderful times with family and friends.

Happy holidays and joy to you!

Make sure you follow me on Instagram @the_mn_homestead for more foraging, jelly-making, homesteading adventures!

Wild plums!

I’ve had one of my most exciting foraging finds! A few days ago as I was wandering the forest skimming the tree line in search of wild apples, I came across a treat I hadn’t expected – a thicket of wild plums! I knew they grow here in MN, but I’d never seen a sign of them. Exciting to say the least.

With my foraging bag over my shoulder, I plucked a few off the tree and popped them in my mouth one at a time. The fruit was sweet and the skins tangy. Having confirmed they’re delicious, I picked the ripest and into my bag they went. With a full bag in hand, I considered my day a success and went home to make a plan to put them up.

I love jams and jellies – there’s nothing better than homemade bread with homemade preserves to start your morning off right. For me, the only way to put these up was to make jam. Right now, I have a thick slice of cracked wheat bread slathered with butter and plum jam, and I’m happy as can be. If he’s good, I may even share some with my husband.

Wild Plum Jam Recipe

4 pounds whole wild plums

1/2 cup water

1 tablespoon lemon juice

5 cups sugar

1 package fruit pectin (3 ounce)

Remove the pits but keep the skins. Chop the fruit (I found that using a serrated bread knife worked best for getting through the skins) and put into a stainless steel pot with the water over medium heat until boiling. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the sugar and bring the mixture to a rolling boil on high heat, stirring constantly. Add pectin and boil for an additional minute, still stirring constantly. Set aside, off heat, for 1 minute.  Skim off any foam.

In the meantime, sterilize the jar, lids, and bands. Then, pour the jam into 8 ounce jars and leave a 1/8 inch headspace. Wipe the rimes and threads then put on the lids and bands. Process in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes.